Public speaking isn’t without its challenges. What’s great is there are a few things you can do to engage your audience and get the results you need from helping your team better understand your new quarterly goals to trying to explain company policies. Here are four public speaking rules you should never break:

  1. Never read a speech: One of the most boring things you could do is read your speech without ever looking up at your audience. This boring approach will give your audience an excuse to look down at their phones, play games, and watch videos during the rest of your time on stage. No, you don’t have to memorize everything word for word but it is a good idea to review and rehearse enough times to be familiar with your speech’s main points and flow. Use a notecard with bullet points to keep yourself honest but stay on track. Notecards are a simple yet effective way to be focused on your key points. Another way you can remember your main ideas is to use a different image per slide. Images are helpful with word association and will also help your audience remember your big ideas.
  2. Never turn your back on the audience to read your PowerPoint: When you turn your back on your audience, you give them a reason to look down and check social media notifications. Most of your communication is done with your hand, head and eye movement as well as facial expressions. By keeping notecards on hand with the main points of your presentation, you can stay focused and always face the audience. Face forward and stay focused on your goal.
  3. “Would’ve loved to rehearse but there was no time”: Don’t ever say to your audience that you wish you could’ve practiced. It’s a lie and everyone knows it. There’s always time to rehearse. If your presentation/speech is ten minutes long and there are a hundred people in the audience, you’re actually wasting a thousand minutes of time collectively. What you’re telling them is that your time is more valuable than their time. You will lose the trust of your audience faster than a starving cheetah chasing a gazelle. When you’re assigned to give a presentation or a keynote speech, you know the date you must speak in advance. Sometimes you might even know you have to present six months ahead of time or even a year in advance. Create a game plan on your calendar where you work on your presentation at least 15-20 minutes every day leading up to your assigned date. Take ownership and pride in what you’re doing. By presenting with confidence and preparing ahead of time, you can earn the trust of your audience and keep them engaged.
  4. Never do a gigantic data dump: You shouldn’t unload fact after fact. Doing a gigantic data dump means you didn’t take time to think about what your audience really needs. Before finalizing your presentation, review the data you plan to share and eliminate what’s not needed.

Now that you know these four public speaking rules, don’t break them. Trust is key to convincing your audience to be on the same page as you. Does the task of following all four rules at once seem overwhelming? Pick two to work on for your next speech and you’re bound to see improvement as you continue to work on following the four rules. Following these rules will make you a more effective speaker and make your speeches more memorable.