What are the best ways to prepare for a public speaking engagement? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by David H. Lawrence XVII, Actor and voice over coach, on Quora:

That depends on where you are in your journey, and what training you get before you start.

If you're just starting off, you're most concerned about the "what": things like what to do with your hands, where to stand and deliver on stage (instead of stalking around like a caged animal, unable to rest in a single place), how to use a hand-held mic, a lectern mic, a headworn mic and/or a lavaliere to the best of its ability, how to effectively design and use a slide deck, how to take questions, how to use humor, how to maintain contact and connection with an audience...these are all mysteries that slowly unravel with more and more experience actually doing the work.

So start with best practices in each of those areas. Google can be your friend there, as there are thousands of really good speakers willing to share their battle stories, strategies and tactics with you. You can also use someone like me, who can coach you via video or in person, analyzing your first efforts in service to making your journey more satisfying and profitable.

If you've got a few public (or private) speaking bookings under your belt, things can get a little easier, and you start to think about the "how". Get coaching to help the final product look more effortless. Use an actor's on-camera techniques to make your stage presence more potent. Start to concentrate on the three A's I counsel my clients on: authenticity, authority and agility: being your absolute true authentic self, which generates trust in your content and your authority to speak on it, and being able to do so with little preparation and the confidence to step up and engage an audience.

(One of the things I'm most proud of is on the several occasions, including a recent Podcast Awards show, where I was asked to fill in at the last minute for a speaker who was a no-show. There's a real thrill when you can say to the conference manager, "Don't worry. I will take care of you." And you can. And you do.)

If you're a seasoned pro who can talk extemporaneously at a moment's notice, public speaking then becomes an absolute joy, and you begin to concentrate more on the "why" of your speaking, and that's a higher level of enjoyment. The subjects don't really concern you (they always seem to ask you to speak about something that's right up your alley), the venue and miking doesn't matter (they just stand as your natural environment and tools, and you gracefully adapt to better or worse setups), and the crowd can be of any size (it doesn't matter to me if I'm speaking to a group of 10 or 15 CEOs or to 8000 screaming ComicCon fans), because all of it is a thrill and all of it is being of service to that audience. When you know you're making a difference, the preparation becomes second nature, but the "why" is fascinating.

So, like most rule sets, how you prepare changes with your level of experience. The journey is lovely, and it can be really rewarding to get all your tools and skills in order, then give them a regular workout. Preparation depends on the venue, the audience, the purpose of the event and a hundred other things. I always interview my clients to find out where they are, so I can tailor my coaching to where they want to be.

I love every single thing about public speaking as part of my performance portfolio, and I hope you share that love: it's the thing that will propel you forward along the journey's path.

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