Public Speaking Tips for the Classroom and Professional Settings

Public speaking; we all hate it, but have to do it at some point or another. Whether it’s a work presentation or, a classroom presentation, or maybe even a ceremony you’ve been asked to present at. Now most people, including myself, are not a fan of it at all- I get nervous that I’ll mess up, that I’ll embarrass myself, or that I won’t be able to get my point across. Now I know you’ve all probably heard countless tips and tricks on how to help get over stress and how to handle speeches- from pretend they’re all in their underwear to posing as Super-Woman in your room before heading over to give the presentation. While these might be helpful, they also might not be. Not everyone handles stress and stage fright the same way, and so I’ve decided to list what has helped me in the past whenever I’ve had to present.

Female software engineer This Engineering RAEng on Unsplash

  1. Pick out your quotes first

Odds are you’re going to have to either reference an article or even a business report in the company you work in. Pick out what pieces of data or information you want and build your speech around that. By doing this, you’re making sure that you won’t lose sight of the point you want to make. When you’re nervous you may start rambling, or getting off-topic and forget what you were trying to say; if you make your quotes the starting point for your speech you’re sure to stay focused and on topic. Not only that, but you also make sure that the data you want to communicate is clear and is the focal point of your speech

2. Keep your aides simple

Whether you’re referencing a PowerPoint or note cards, you’ll have to use them to keep yourself on track when delivering your speech. Because of that, it’s very easy to lose track of where you are when you’re going back and forth from looking at them to your audience. If you keep your prompters clear and precise you’ll always remember where you are and where you were going with your point. That being said- you need to make sure they’re simple so you don’t get confused about where you are. If your notecards are covered in highlighter, or different colored pens, you may not be able to pick out what quotes you were looking for, or where you are in your delivery. Make sure you keep them in order, and that you keep them simple. List your quotes, points, and any important statements, and nothing else. Not only will this help you make sure you get your information across, but it also gives you a little leeway to add anything you may think of on the spot! 

3. Practice, practice, practice! 

This seems like it’s something obvious, but is often the most overlooked part of the process. People assume just because they know the material and wrote out what they want to say they’ll be able to do that at the time of delivery. That however isn’t the case- you have all your points sure, but how do you want to say them? In what order? What do you want to say in between these main points? Stuff like that, which you need to know before you deliver your speech officially. Practicing can be awkward but is necessary for a successful speech. Personally, I practice in my room where I’m comfortable to mess up, restart, and change things however many times I need. Honestly I just repeat my speech over and over again until it becomes muscle memory so that when I get up to present it’s instinct at that point. 

 

These tips may seem obvious or redundant, but I hate giving speeches and these have helped me through many stressful moments. Though they may not be perfect, they’re helpful, and in stressful situations like public speaking any and all tips help me. Overall public speaking is a necessary evil that has to exist within all professional settings and is unavoidable. At some point or another, you’ll have to stand up in front of a group of people and explain your point clearly and effectively. 

 

Amanda Gorman speaking at President Joe Biden's Inauguration Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license