by Alex Bigelow
Many national surveys found that public speaking ranks higher than illness, flying, and even death as our greatest fear. Jerry Seinfeld once joked that, “at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.” Avoiding public speaking in college is darn near impossible but learning a few quick tips can help you become a more confident and poised public speaker.
In Tony Will’s introduction to communications class, preparedness and practice are at the forefront of being a good public speaker. During presentations, Will says he always knows whether someone had spent time outside the class preparing for their speech. “The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become,” he said.
Practicing aside, having strong organization and a thorough idea of what you plan to present is important, said Guy Smith, a communications instructor at Whatcom Community College. “Tell us what you’re going to tell us, tell us, remind us what you just told us,” said Smith. With a final tip Smith said, “dress appropriate for the situation with a suit or something other than jeans and a t-shirt because it’s your first impression.”
Much of preparing for a speech is finding a topic that both you and the audiences are interested in said Will. “You will be a lot more confident and comfortable when you have a well targeted audience.”
Will recommends that to become a comfortable public speaker, you have to present in front of diverse groups venues, “getting as much practice in front of different audiences, different audience sizes, and different venues to become a more comfortable and confident public speaker.”
“Get to know your audience,” said Shane Sanders, 18, a student at Whatcom who is comfortable giving presentations and speeches. “I make note cards and jot down some notes for the speech in case I forget.”
Whatcom student David Kappele, 16, said the speaker is the most critical of himself. “People have a negative image of what people think of them while they present, but when you mess up, really only you notice,” said Kappele. He added that we have to stay outside of our minds so we don’t get too nervous. He also said he goes over a presentation in his mind before hand, but doesn’t want to over-prepare.
With these tips at hand, maybe public speaking can move beneath fears such as spiders, snakes and heights the next time we’re asked to stand in front our peers.
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