Talking in front of different groups and delivering a speech is a regular activity during high school. When you get to college, it happens even more.
While avoiding speeches and presentations may seem like an easy solution, the truth is that it may significantly impact your career, especially regarding leadership or managerial roles.
Hence, high school or college is the perfect place to learn public speaking techniques, overcome fears, and become confident speakers.
If you are struggling with public speaking, you can follow the general speaking tips for students below to become excellent speakers and excel in front of any audience.
1. Find A Style That Works For You
Universities or colleges hold different types of events every year, which may require you to have a distinct speech style. So make sure you give it your personal touch, whether using more vocal energy, facial energy, or gestures.
You can even include different qualities in the speech that mostly describe your strengths, like funny, kind, knowledgeable, serious, direct, intense, and more. Just try to be as authentic as you can, and refrain from trying to generate enthusiasm that is false for you.
2. Know Your Surroundings
If you have access to the place where you will be speaking, try to get there well ahead of time and walk around the area to get the vibe of the surroundings. This will help you gain confidence and become more comfortable with the environment.
Once there, you can practice standing at the same spot where you will deliver your speech and make arrangements for audio-visual equipment.
3. Know Your Topic
A clear understanding of the subject you are speaking on will ensure that you know your topic well. It helps speak with authority and control without being confused.
Besides, knowing your public speaking topics will prevent you from feeling flustered and allow you to talk freely without having to depend on notes.
Remember that your audience will appreciate you and have more confidence in you if you speak without notes.
4. Know Your Audience
One of the most crucial aspects of public speaking is connecting with your audience. Therefore, you need to know who you are speaking to (students, teachers, etc.), what they want, and what you need to say to them.
Deep knowledge about your audience will help you determine whether to make your content more complex or simplify it.
5. Record Yourself Or Practice In Front Of A Mirror
You might be surprised to discover plenty of new things while watching yourself practice the speech. For instance, you may look up at random points or use your hands to express yourself.
You can use a video camera on your phone to record yourself while you practise delivering your speech. This will help ensure that your eye contact, pacing, and body language display confidence and match the tone of your speech.
You can also practice in front of a mirror and learn more about your hand usage, body motion, and facial expressions.
6. Speak Slowly
Remember that nothing reveals more nerves than speaking fast when delivering a speech. Therefore, if you want to influence the crowd positively, talk slowly so they completely understand and hear what you are saying.
People generally use around 300 to 400 words in a minute in a normal conversation. Still, if you are giving a speech, use 140 to 160 words per minute.
7. Practice Until Perfect
Unless you practice something relentlessly, it cannot become muscle memory. So if you are preparing for a big speech, take out time to practice every day. Make sure to schedule your content and goals well in advance. This can be accomplished while driving, walking, on a plane, or anywhere else.
You can even practice your speech in front of a friend or a mirror. If your speech is too long, you can break it down into bits and focus on memorising one part at a time. All in all, practising your speech will help you with the following:
Make sure you can clearly and confidently pronounce your speech.
Work out on pauses and pacing for optimum effect.
Feel more comfortable with the message you are trying to deliver.
8. Read Aloud
We all know reading is excellent, but reading aloud is much better. By reading out loud, you primarily train yourself with all the vocal abilities and skills required to be a clear speaker. It helps you with pronunciation, diction, clarity, projection, and more.
If you tend to get a little tongue-tied, reading out loud will help you to pronounce words better and control your speech organs. This work even under strenuous situations.
Furthermore, suppose your audience can understand you quickly and you have good diction. What you present will have a more substantial effect.
9. Use Body Language
As a speaker, your posture communicates an unspoken message to your nervous system and the audience. So ensure you have an active stance with your chin up, shoulders back, and chest out.
No matter where you are speaking, behind a podium, from a computer screen, or in front of an audience, having the correct posture will always make you feel comfortable.
Try to set your gaze at different points in the room — the person seated in the last row should understand what you are saying as much as the person sitting in the front row.
You can even use gestures to express your emotions, mainly when no podium exists. However, you must use it sparingly to create no distractions.
10. Focus On Storytelling
Over the centuries, storytelling has effectively conveyed insights, facts, and points of view. Therefore, try using as many anecdotes as possible to engage with your audience emotionally. When you deliver information in a more relatable manner, people are more likely to remember what you say.
You can even use humour to convey your ideas as long as your purpose is to engage with your audience and not offend them. Lastly, stories should be separate from the primary focus of your speech, so keep them brief.
11. Learn From The Pros
One of the best ways to improve your public speaking skills is to watch others giving speeches and carefully analyse what works and does not. Remember, a compelling speaker understands how to prepare for public speaking and convey their message excitingly.
You can also observe their narrative pacing and body language to improve public speaking. Making dramatic pauses immediately after important points gives listeners time to absorb the meaning of what you stated.
12. Combat Anxiety
It is entirely natural to feel anxious as it shows that you are doing something of utmost importance. However, your focus should be on functioning efficiently. A crucial part of overcoming your public speaking fear is to take care of your physical needs.
So make sure you get eight hours of sleep before your speech day. Avoid foods and drinks that can spike up blood sugar levels, and consume a small meal that contains something nutritious on the day of your speech. Also, remember to keep yourself hydrated.
Another way to quell anxiety is to do meditation or yoga — they work perfectly towards soothing your nervous system. In stressful moments, try to control the breathing pattern that will help keep you relaxed. Whenever in doubt, take a deep breath.
13. Tell Someone About Your Anxiety
If you speak in front of a college class or high school, you can meet with your professor or teacher and share your public speaking fears.
You can even discuss the feeling with your guidance counsellor, your parents, or anyone you feel comfortable with. Sometimes sharing how you feel with others can help you overcome stage fright and anxiety.
14. Use Positive Self-Talk
Thinking about all the possible things that could go wrong while delivering your speech could add to your public speaking anxiety. So if you are doing this, try to modify your thought patterns by making a conscious effort.
One of the best ways to start attacking pessimistic thoughts is by recognising that any horrible outcomes you expect are unlikely to happen. The next thing you need to realise is that even if something goes wrong, hardly anyone will notice it.
Imagine completing the speech and picturing your friends, teachers, or other students congratulating you. If the negative thoughts keep returning, tell yourself repeatedly, “I will do great with this speech.”
15. Exercise Before Speaking
Exercising is a well-established way to reduce fear and anxiety. So if you are afraid of speaking in public, regular exercise can help you relax and deal with stress. Also, exercising the day before your speech will get you in the right mindset for your address and calm your nerves.
You can also do aerobics as it is one of the best stress relief methods. Additionally, even something as simple as a brisk walk can help you relieve stress and fear.
16. Make Eye Contact
Making eye contact with your audience throughout the speech has its benefits. Firstly, you get to see how the audience responds and tailor your speech accordingly. For instance, if they look bored, you can instantly make changes and involve your audience more.
If they look shocked, you can clarify. And if they seem confused, you can explain a bit more. All in all, you can serve your audience better by making eye contact with them.
Another benefit of maintaining eye contact is that it will help get positive feedback from your audience. Thus making you feel more confident and comfortable. Also, remember you build a relationship of trust with your audience when you make eye contact with them.
17. Greet Your Audience With A Smile
Smiling can lower stress and boost your mood. So even if you don’t feel like it, make sure to smile when giving a speech, as it helps you instantly relax and feel more confident.
When you stand in front of the audience, please take a moment to greet them with a smile. This will help you get some subconscious confidence boost instantly, resulting in positive feedback.
Becoming a great public speaker, controlling your body language, feeling at ease with the audience, and delivering an excellent speech may take some time. And at times, it would be much easier to speak with one person.
However, in college or your workplace, there will come a time when you’ll have to address a larger group of people to make a good and lasting impression. So whatever stage of life you are at, public speaking is something you cannot avoid.
Following the above public speaking tips for students, with some intelligent preparation, creativity, and regular practice, absolutely anyone can become a brilliant public speaker.
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