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Sooner or later, most of us need to give a speech, a pitch, or a presentation. Whether you’ve done it a thousand times or you’re speaking in public for the very first time, it’s important to be fully prepared—and that means identifying potential hurdles and doing everything in your power to avoid them.

Let me give you just a few examples.

Not Being Aware of Your Audience

It’s sometimes said that you can’t give an elevator pitch until you know who’s going to be in the elevator. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. A really effective speech is going to be tailored to the specific needs and pain points of your audience—so of course, you need to know who’s in that audience.

If you’re giving a speech somewhere, ask for some audience demographics in advance—any information that the meeting arranger can furnish you with. Spend some time thinking about what the people in the audience are coming to get from you, then tailor your speech to deliver it.

Speaking Inauthentically

Simply put, nobody’s really going to be moved by your speech if they feel like you don’t really mean it. It’s imperative that you speak from the heart.

That’s not always easy, at least not in a professional setting, but one practical thing you can do is throw in a personal anecdote or two—stories that will help ground your speech in your real-life experience.

Not Preparing Your Body

Yeah, you need to prepare your speech. That goes without saying. What needs to be said, and stressed, is that you should also prepare your body.

Some quick recommendations: I’d advise walking around a little bit, or even marching in place, right before your speech; get some blood flowing! Practice some breathing exercises that you can use to calm yourself if you get nervous. And, when you practice your speech, make sure you practice it standing up and speaking out loud. Get used to the feel of delivering your speech.

As you can tell, there are a few different ways in which a speech can go wrong—but these things are all easily avoided if you know what you’re watching out for.