Written by Alex Ion
Giving speeches and presentations is an inevitable part of life. Whether it be at school or at a conference, speeches and orals dominate most fields of study. What is worse is that over three quarters of the population fear presentations in front of people even though, eight times out of ten there is nothing to fear or be anxious about.
For the remaining 20 percent, the following tips will help you better prepare for a public speech and to better deliver, starting today.
photy by D’Arcy Norman
1. Be prepared and practice.
Part of being nervous during an oral or presentation is due to the fact that you feel like you will forget critical pieces of information or that you will get up front of everyone and forget everything. Practice, over and over, until you are able to do your presentation with the minimal amount of cue cards. Practice in different settings, in front of different people.
2. Pick a topic that interests you.
It is hard to speak passionately and with conviction when you are talking about something that you couldn’t care about to save your life. Pick a topic that you know about so that you will be able to inject a little charisma into your speech. When questions come around at the end, you will be more equipped to answer them if you love what you talked about.
Also, picking a topic that interests you, but that you don’t necessarily know a lot about, makes information found regarding that topic easier to encode into long term memory and then to retrieve it! Easier to remember makes for an easier performance.
3. Don’t leave the audience out.
When the audience is pulled into your speech, or is forced to interact with you while you are giving your speech, their curiosity and attention will be on you. When you do not interact with the audience, you are giving them a huge opportunity to daydream, doze off and not listen. Why spend all that time on a speech to have your audience fall asleep?
4. Know your audience.
Know who you will be speaking to and tailor your speech accordingly. If you are talking to medical students you can use medical terms more liberally than if you were talking to sociology majors.
5. Make it simple to understand.
Not everyone will understand what you are saying and not everyone is interested in what you are saying. Especially when the topic is difficult to start with. Even when you define difficult terms they may not keep up. No one cares about how smart you sound. Losing your audience is not ideal either, which is inevitable if they don’t understand. If you have to use complicated terms, complement them with an easy to understand example of what you mean.
6. Complement your speech with visual aids.
Use power point slides or projectors. Illustrate your examples and put definitions of difficult concepts on simple slides. Some people learn better visually.
7. Dress properly.
Do not dress like you are staying in for the day, i.e. sweat pants?Dress like you mean it and are interested in what you are doing. Dress like you are taking this seriously. What you wear says something about you and people take those who dress seriously, more seriously and think they are more competent.
8. Keep your audience hanging and thinking.
Close your speech by leaving your audience thinking. This will perpetuate your speech and cultivate curiosity in others. It will also leave you and your speech more memorable.
Everything from dressing to the way you deliver your speech is important. It is through practice that you will be able to relieve a bit of the anxiety and fear that accompanies public speaking. Speaking slow and with conviction will captivate the audience and leave them wanting more. Remember, anxiety is normal, but if you work through it you will find that it is not as bad as you make it out to be.