Make your notes big enough to read at a glance and try listing three things in a row. Write the words in block capitals and different colours so you’re given an instant memory trigger.
Practise with the same notes you’re going to use on the day so you’re familiar with them. Don’t be afraid of repeating your key point several times – people will remember the stuff you repeat. Just don’t go overboard or you’ll look like an idiot.
Think you’re slick? Rehearse it again – at least six times. Reality could always do with a polish. When you think that you’ve got it completely nailed, tape yourself as you perform it to a friend, then play it back a few times to see where the problem areas are.
As a rule, keep anecdotes to no more than a minute – if it takes any longer than that to get across it’s too complicated and you’ll lose your audience’s attention. Pause for a second at the end of each point you make. This is the single best way to eliminate “umming and aahing”, as it lends a real sense of control: everyone will be hanging on your next word. Unless that word is “um” or “ah”.
Don’t Crack Up
To avoid your voice breaking into a falsetto, try humming for a full minute before you start your speech. Humming at your natural speaking pitch brings your voice to a natural level and stops you speaking with all the gravitas of a eunuch.
Spit It Out
Eat a Granny Smith or a similarly sour apple, just before you speak. Nerves can dry out your mouth, but the acidity in this tart fruit stimulates saliva production, keeping your talk crisp and fluid. Conversely, you should skip the coffee (caffeine dries out your mouth faster than sand and will make you extra jittery). Also, try to stay away from milk, yoghurt and ice cream – dairy products turn saliva as thick as soup, making you sound more nasal than if you had a peg on your snoz.