If you don’t have a lot of experience in public speaking, it can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, there are things you can do to make it a lot easier.
Public speaking is an art that takes effort and practice. As you get more experience, you will become a lot more comfortable with it.
1. Know Your Material
One of the most important things is to know your material. If you are speaking about something that you know well, you will have more confidence. Your audience will be more attentive and interested when they sense your passion and knowledge of your topic. In addition, you will be a lot more comfortable if you have to answer any questions. Be sure to know the material.
2. Practice Aloud
If you want to feel more confident about speaking to an audience, practice aloud. You can do this in front of a mirror or give your talk to friends or family. In addition, you might consider taking a video of your rehearsal. You can see how your presentation looks and make improvements before you give the speech live. Practice as much as possible so that you perfect your delivery before you give the speech.
3. Tell Someone That You Are Nervous
If you find that you have speaking anxiety, you can speak to a teacher or a mentor about it. They have more experience than you do, and they might be able to help you calm your nerves. Sometimes just acknowledging that you are nervous about giving the speech will help you to overcome your anxiety. You will know that they support you when it is time to give your speech, which can be very helpful.
4. Watch Other People Speak
One way to improve your public speaking skills is to observe other people giving talks. You can pay attention to their delivery and body language to see how they engage the audience. You don’t need to attend live events; you can watch them on YouTube. Mimic their style to see how it feels to give a strong talk. This will carry over when you give your speech.
5. Know That You and Your Classmates Are in the Same Boat
Many college students are beginners at public speaking, and you should take comfort knowing that you are not alone. Your classmates want you to succeed, and they will likely try to smile at you and encourage you. They will have empathy for you because they have to do it too. They will also be impressed if you are up there making it happen because they all realize what it takes to master this skill.
6. Make Sure That You Stick to One Message
The best talks are similar to the best papers: they stick to one message. When you have one theme, your talk will be easier to follow, and it will have a greater impact on your audience. You can use examples to support your theme, but make sure that you don’t wander off topic. If you skip around, your audience won’t know what your message was once you finish.
7. Organize Your Speech
Speeches should be organized similarly to essays or papers. You should have an introduction that includes your topic. In the beginning, hook the audience with an interesting fact or a thought-provoking question.
Support your topic in the body of the speech with evidence and examples, and end with a conclusion that ties it together. When you organize your speech this way, your message will be clear, and your audience will hear your message.
8. Don’t Use Fluff
Fluff or filler words are words that do not add any meaning to your speech. When you edit your speech, remove words such as “just” or “really.” Any word that doesn’t add to the meaning of your speech should come out. Fluff will distract your audience and get in the way of your message. Make sure that you practice the final draft fluff and filler-free so that you won’t add any back in.
9. Focus on Someone You Know
When you get up in front of the room, find someone you know and imagine that you are speaking to that person. You can make eye contact, and it will feel more natural. You can arrange this ahead of time if you have a friend who will be in your audience. It will help to ease your nerves and make you feel more confident.
10. Visit the Room Before Your Speech
Before it is time for you to give the speech, visit the room. Stand in front if you are able. While you are there, make a mental note of the layout of the room, where your audio-visual equipment will be, and where the audience is sitting. You will use this information when you are practicing your speech at home. You will also feel more comfortable speaking in the room if you have been there before.
11. Visualize Yourself Giving the Speech
One of the benefits of visiting the room is that you can visualize yourself giving the speech at home. Stand up and close your eyes. Visualize the room full of people. Choose someone you know as a focal point, and practice delivering your speech. This will help you when you give the actual speech. If you have run through it in your mind, it will feel more familiar.
12. Take Opportunities to Gain Experience
The best way to develop speaking skills is by gaining experience. There are different ways that you can achieve this. You can practice in class by raising your hand to answer questions. Take any opportunity to speak in front of a group. If you don’t have experience talking to large groups of people, it can be intimidating, but once you start doing it, you will realize that it isn’t that bad.
13. Incorporate Stories Into Your Speech
Another great way of holding your audience’s attention is by telling stories. If you present your evidence as a story, it will be more personal and interesting. It is important to present evidence and details, but follow them with a story to make your point. It will keep your audience engaged.
14. Practice Your Delivery
One of the important elements of your speech is your delivery. You should not speak in a flat monotone voice. You don’t want to be too quiet or too loud. Ideally, you will vary your tone and the volume. You can also speak more quickly at times and then slow it back down. When you have a variable delivery, your audience will remain engaged throughout.
15. Find Your Unique Style
As you practice your speech, find ways to make it uniquely yours. When you communicate with your friends and family, you have a unique style that is a part of who you are. Allow yourself to become more comfortable with public speaking, and bring your personality into your presentation. This will make your talk more authentic, and people will remain engaged.
16. Don’t Get Hung up on a Mistake
If you make a mistake while you are giving a talk, don’t get hung up on it. Remember that your audience isn’t looking at a written copy of your speech. Don’t say you’re sorry or try to explain yourself. Just make the correction and continue on. There is a good chance that they won’t even notice. If you start to get nervous, just refocus and find a familiar face in the audience. Keep going and it will be fine.
17. Start Your Speech by Hooking Your Audience
When you begin your speech, you will have everyone’s attention. Your job is to keep them interested. The best way to do this is with a hook. Your hook can be an interesting fact or a personal story that is related to your topic. Make sure that you include this when you write your speech, as sticking with facts and figures alone can lose the attention of your audience quickly.
18. Focus on Your Theme
Your entire speech should tie into your theme, and you can focus on it to keep yourself going. If you start to get nervous, think about your theme, and you will get back on track. Your theme is the most important part of your speech because it is the message you want to give your audience. If your mind starts to wander, go back to your theme, and it will ease your nerves.
19. Make Your Audience Laugh
One way to keep your audience engaged is by saying something funny or telling a joke. You can write this into your speech. Practice beforehand, and run your presentation by a friend or family member. Make sure that it is funny and appropriate for your speech. Making your audience laugh is a great way to ease the tension.
20. Be Warm
You want to appear warm and open, and smiling will do the trick. You don’t want to stand in front of the room as if you are a deer in the headlights. That will make everyone uncomfortable and raise the tension. When you smile, you will put everyone in the room at ease, and they will be more interested in what you have to say.