10 Tips for Congress Speakers

  1. Breathe. Remember that it’s okay to be nervous. But keep breathing.
  2. Trust yourself. You were invited to speak. Others have confidence in you; you should too.
  3. If you’re standing in one spot, stand in one spot. If you’re walking to another place, go there, then stand in one spot. That will keep you from pacing or rocking.
  4. Write out what you’re going to say, and then practice it. Out loud. Standing up. Smiling. In front of a mirror. Practice the full presentation and change any words that don’t roll off your tongue easily. Then practice it again.
  5. Make sure your full delivery is at least a few minutes shorter than the time you’ve been given to speak.
  6. Avoid holding the lectern with both hands (you’ll look like you’re holding on for dear life), and avoid leaning on it (you’ll look like you need to be held up).
  7. You’ll be much more at ease if your clothes are suitable and comfortable when sitting, standing and walking. Socks really ought to be long enough to hide ankles, even under dress slacks when your legs are crossed. Short hemlines can be surprisingly revealing when your seat is at eye-level of the people sitting in front of you. And too-tight or too-lose clothes demand your attention, and that distracts you and your audience from what you’re saying.
  8. Remember that the people listening to you are grateful (or even relieved!) that it’s you up there, not them.
  9. When someone asks a question, repeat or summarize the question and then direct the answer to everyone in the room.
  10. Breathe deeply, and smile.