When it comes to public speaking, the 3 P's are the essentials: prepare, practice and present. Many will say that your delivery is the most important aspect of your presentation; and, admittedly, the most creative, the most inspiring, and / or the most exciting words will fall short of your goal if your delivery skills are weak. To say that one aspect of public speaking is more important than another, however, would be wrong.
Good public speaking skills include a strong preparation, your 1st step of which is to define your purpose. What is your reason for speaking? Are you there to inform or to persuade? Whatever your purpose, build your presentation or your speech around your goal.
Research and outline your text by breaking it down into major points or, as I refer to them, blocks of information. This is more important than you may think. If you can learn to focus your material within large blocks of information, it will be easier for you to plan your material, practice it, and later deliver it.
Once you have your outline, begin practicing out loud. Even if you are not finished creating your entire piece, start saying your words out loud and listen to how it flows. In doing so, you will possibly change some of the material you have already thought of and discover other material or anecdotes that you want to include.
Do not underestimate the value of rehearsing your outline even before it is done. Practicing your material is one the most overlooked and undervalued aspect of public speaking and yet, without practice, your chances of success are less likely. Your audience is not interested in listening to you 'practice' on stage. Just as athletes, actors, musicians, and singers rehearse daily, so too should the public speaker.
When you practice, do not just go over your words. Imagine you are talking to an audience as you speak. When I work with clients privately, I fill the room with large stuffed animals so that my clients have an audience to acknowledge, as they scan the room from one side to the other.
Your final step is to present your speech or your presentation to your 'live' audience. If you have done your homework and created a strong informative or persuasive talk, if you have faithfully gone over your material so that you know it 'inside and out,' your delivery will be much easier and the likelihood of your success much greater. Talk to your audience with passion and enthusiasm just as if you were having a conversation in your living room and your audience will thank you.
The fear of public speaking makes the task of public speaking so much more difficult than it needs to be. You will find that solid preparation and serious practice will make your presentation that much better, that much easier and that much more dynamic.