Preparing for Public Speaking

If you are like most people, you dread public speaking. Public speaking ranks at the top of the list of what people fear most.

Students entering college are usually aware that at some point they will have to give some type of presentation and it’s a thought that strikes fear in their hearts. However, there are several tips that can help students be prepared to give that presentation when the time arrives.

*Don’t panic. This may sound very basic, but it’s important to remember that being nervous about giving a presentation is quite normal and you’re not the only one going through this. Most likely, every member of your class is dreading their presentation. Remaining calm will help as you prepare your materials and information.

*Start preparing right away. The earlier you get started on your presentation the more time you will have to make sure you feel fully prepared. Part of people’s nervousness in giving a presentation if they wait till the last minute is they don’t feel ready to talk about their subject. Presentations are not things you want to procrastinate on.

*Research and be very familiar with the topic you are presenting. The more you know about your subject the more confident you will feel speaking about it. Make sure you take the time to conduct thorough research and take the time to make sure you really understand what you are presenting. If you are just reciting facts from a book you will be more likely to stumble during the presentation because you are relying solely on memorization. If you become acquainted with your subject it will help you not sound like you are regurgitating a text book and your presentation will seem more “natural.”

*Create an outline. Once you have conducted your research and feel comfrotable with your material it is helpful to create an outline highlighting the major points you want to discuss. Don’t go into a ton of detail at this point. You just need a simple list of the major topics you want to address. Once you have listed all your main points, figure out what order would be best to present them in so that your presentation will flow well. Then create your final outline putting the main points in the order you want to present them.

*Fill in the details. An outline will be a helpful tool for you to have as a reference during your presentation, but in order to prepare for your speech it is a good idea to think through and write out what exactly you plan on saying. For each main point of your outline fill in the details that you would like to discuss and write out exactly what you want to say.

*Practice out loud. Once you have written out what you want to say take time to go through it just as you will on the actual day of your presentation. Don’t just read through it silently,but say it out loud. Read through it out loud several times, as many times as it takes for you to feel comfortable with the information. Reading it out loud will also help you make any adjustments that are needed. Sometimes things sound differently when we say them out loud then when we read it on paper so it’s good to hear how things sound spoken since that is what you will be graded on.

*Practice in front of a mirror. After you have read through your presentation enough to feel comfortable with it, the next step is to read through it in front of a mirror so you can see what you will look like to your classmates and teacher. A large part of a presentation is your appearance, do you look nervous, are you hopping from foot to foot, doing weird hand gestures when you speak, do you slouch? By practicing in front of a mirror you can see things that you may be doing unconsciously, like tapping your foot throughout the whole presentation, and then you can not do those things during the actual presentation. You don’t want to distract people from what you’re saying by some weird body movement.

*Have an audience. Get a friend or roommate to watch you give your presentation. It’s good to practice in front of another person that you feel comfortable with. They can also give you feedback. If there is a part of your presentation they don’t understand they can tell you so you can change it to make sure your listeners get the message you are trying to share.

By following these tips you will feel prepared on the day of your presentation. You may still feel those tinges of nerves, even people that like public speaking get nervous from time to time, but you will not be overwhelmed by the feeling which will allow you to deliver that great presentation and score a high grade.