Ah, public speaking. We all hate it, but we have to do it in every career. I know from experience that in high school, this was not a skill that was stressed enough (not nearly as it should be). Reading directly off of the PowerPoint slides basically guaranteed you at least an A- on the assignment. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening in college when I had to do my first public speaking assignment… I quickly found out that “reading off the slide” technique was no longer accepted.
Friends, it is important to recognize the do’s and don’ts earlier rather than later in the world of public speaking. Here are some tips that you should most definitely follow to improve your public speaking skills.
1. Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute!
This is the most important tip. Honestly, this tip can go for anything because the early bird catches the worm my friends! Starting a public speaking assignment or creating a business pitch the night before you need to present it is a disaster! Not only will it not turn out great, but also the next morning you will turn into a zombie because I can guarantee that you stayed up all night working on it. So please, once you are given the assignment, make sure you work on it a little bit every few days so this way you are not stressed and have the adequate amount of time to make necessary corrections.
2. Ask For Critique!
Before you start, ask your peers, colleagues, or professors for some advice. See if they like the direction in which you are going with your piece. If these are all positive comments, great! Go right for it and begin your project. If the feedback sounds like you need some improving before you begin, don’t get discouraged! This is constructive criticism! It is better that you find out now rather than later that your presentation is not at the best point that it can be.
3. Utilize the Tools Available to You
I have presented and watched many presentations and the ones I like the best are where there are many mediums involved. It keeps you engaged and focused when the presenter isn’t just lecturing you the whole time. Use a fun/colorful PowerPoint, show us a fun diagram you made, conduct a survey or an experiment and share with us your results, or even interview someone. People like to hear and see many different perspectives on a topic. Also, to see the lengths that you went in order to do research on a topic shows how passionate you are about it and this will help you in a pitch.
Tip: This also buys you time and takes the focus off of you a bit if you are that worried about presenting.
4. Creativity is Always Welcomed
I don’t know about you, but I hate listening to presentations where I feel like I am hearing the teacher in Charlie Brown go on and on… Be creative! Step outside of the box! People are always scared to do this especially in a professional environment, but trust me this is most certainly welcomed (always being tasteful of course) There is nothing like a little bit of comic relief to lighten the mood. Doing something creative and out of the box will make you stand out as well and you will be remembered for it.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice!
The moment your presentation begins better not be the first time that you’re ever going through it. Most of the time, you only have one chance while you are public speaking so make sure it is the best that it can be. If you have a time limit for your presentation make sure you practice to see if you are within this time frame. Also, practice so the information flows right off your tongue. With that being said, do not practice to the point where you sound like a robot, this is too obvious that you rehearsed and you will be extremely boring to listen to. Pretend as though you are having a typical conversation!
6. Don’t Sweat the Little Things
During presentations people are always worried about their own appearance… Trust me, no one is noticing the one hair out of place or the sweat stains that you think are there. The only thing everyone is focused on is the information that you are presenting, they are not sitting there just to judge you. If you slip up and forget one piece of information, so what! The listeners had no idea you messed up, only you do. Just move on to the next topic and all will be fine.
You are going to kill the presentation, so just remain calm and relaxed! If you followed these tips you know exactly what you are doing and there is nothing to be worried about.
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Victoria is a student at The University of Delaware studying Marketing and International Business. She likes to consider herself an avocado connoisseur and will eat them on anything.