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Focus your message.
Focus your message. / Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

“Everyone has to give a speech at some point, and everyone is scared to do it,” says Joan Detz, public-speaking expert and author of How to Write and Give a Good Speech. Detz gives five simple steps to speech success:

Know that less is more. Focus your message. “The audience can only absorb so much. A general rule is, the more you put in, the less they will remember.”

Aim for a target. “Look at the audience in terms of demographics, age range, etc.,” Detz says. “Speaking about energy conservation to a young adult who just bought a new car, for example, is going to be much different from speaking to a family.”

Choose interesting research. Don't just “throw numbers at an audience,” she says. Put data in everyday language the audience can relate to. For example, if you were speaking for an hour about underage drinking, tell the audience how many teens will call a help hotline in an hour. “This immediacy will grab their attention.”

Write it down. Put your thoughts on paper before standing up and presenting them to an audience. “Whether you type them or write them down on index cards,” know the opening, middle and end.

Practice &em; without stopping. “A lot of inexperienced speakers will worry about starting off strong and will practice the beginning of their speech 10 times and just skim over the rest,” Detz says. Going through the entire thing is essential. Practice will, indeed, help make your speech perfect.

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