Not everyone is cut out to be a public speaker, but if you’re a nonprofit, why not get out and start spreading the word as a cause speaker? If you’re not a professional speaker there are some ways you can get up to speed quickly to improve your speaking skills and eliminate your fear.

  1. Do your homework – I’m sure you know your cause and your nonprofit like the back of your hand. But how much do you know about your audience? Every audience is different and expects something different from you. The best way to find out is to ask the meeting planner. Really dig deep to find out as much as you can about the people you’ll be speaking to. What do they want and need to learn from your presentation? What do they already know? No matter how much they know, you can win a lot of brownie points by finding some really interesting information nobody has heard of.
  2. Use humor – By their very nature, most causes are serious business. Cancer, domestic violence, homelessness. None of those topics are funny. But you can and should find a way to add some humor to your speech. Laughter is the brain’s reset button. We especially need humor when talking about a serious subject. There’s a saying “Humor is just tragedy, separated by time and space.” This could get a little tricky, so it’s best to use your gut instinct. Run it by the meeting planner first just to make sure you’re not crossing a line. And use your own experience. It’s almost always okay to laugh at yourself.
  3. Be prepared – It’s more than just a scout’s motto. One of the tricks to being a great speaker is simply to know your speech like the back of your hand. Not memorized word for word, but knowing your topic so well that you talk about it all day long. I know it sounds boring, but practice your speech over and over and over again until it bores you. Then you can start playing around with it and improvise. I practice in front of my dogs. If I can keep them awake, I know I’m on the right track. Once you have it down, practice in front of a group that is similar to the one you’ll be delivering the speech to. Get feedback and practice some more.
  4. Have fun – Just remember that the audience wants you to succeed. They are rooting for you. If you’re having fun, they’ll have fun. Believe me, they don’t want to sit through a boring speech, so just go out there and have fun with it. As long as you’re prepared, you have passion for your topic, and you’re excited about what you’re talking about, you’ll be fine.