PUBLIC SPEAKING SKILLS FOR STUDENTS

1.     The Importance of Public Speaking

2.     Strategies for Becoming a Better Speaker

3.     Advices for Speakers

Becoming a Confident, Compelling Speaker

Whether we're talking in a team meeting or presenting in front of an audience, we all have to speak in public from time to time.

We can do this well or we can do this badly, and the outcome strongly affects the way that people think about us. This is why public speaking causes so much anxiety and concern.

The good news is that, with thorough preparation and practice, you can overcome your nervousness and perform exceptionally well. This article explains how!

The Importance of Public Speaking

Even if you don't need to make regular presentations in front of a group, there are plenty of situations where good public speaking skills can help you advance your career and create opportunities.

For example, you might have to talk about your organization at a conference, make a speech after accepting an award, or teach a class to new recruits. Public speaking also includes online presentations or talks; for instance, when training a virtual team, or when speaking to a group of customers in an online meeting.

Good public speaking skills are important in other areas of your life, as well. You might be asked to make a speech at a friend's wedding, give a eulogy for a loved one, or inspire a group of volunteers at a charity event.

In short, being a good public speaker can enhance your reputation, boost your self-confidence, and open up countless opportunities.

However, while good public speaking skills can open doors, poor speaking skills can close them. For example, your boss might decide against promoting you after sitting through a poorly-delivered presentation. You might lose a valuable new contract by failing to connect with a prospect during a sales pitch. Or you could make a poor impression with your new team, because you trip over your words and don't look people in the eye.

Strategies for Becoming a Better Speaker

What's great about public speaking is that it's a learnable skill. As such, you can use the following strategies to become a better speaker and presenter.

Plan Appropriately

First, make sure that you plan your communication appropriately. Use tools like the Rhetorical Triangle, Monroe's Motivated Sequence, and the 7Cs of Communication to think about how you'll structure what you're going to say.

When you do this, think about how important a book's first paragraph is; if it doesn't grab you, you're likely going to put it down. The same principle goes for your speech: from the beginning, you need to intrigue your audience.

For example, you could start with an interesting statistic, headline, or fact that pertains to what you're talking about and resonates with your audience. You can also use story telling as a powerful opener; our Expert Interviews with Annette Simmons and Paul Smith offer some useful tips on doing this.

Planning also helps you to think on your feet. This is especially important for unpredictable question and answer sessions or last-minute communications.

Tip: Remember that not all public speaking will be scheduled. You can make good impromptu speeches by having ideas and mini-speeches pre-prepared. It also helps to have a good, thorough understanding of what's going on in your organization and industry.

 Practice

There's a good reason that we say, "Practice makes perfect!" You simply cannot be a confident, compelling speaker without practice.

To get practice, seek opportunities to speak in front of others. For example, Toastmasters is a club geared specifically towards aspiring speakers, and you can get plenty of practice at Toastmasters sessions. You could also put yourself in situations that require public speaking, such as by cross-training a group from another department, or by volunteering to speak at team meetings.If you're going to be delivering a presentation or prepared speech, create it as early as possible. The earlier you put it together, the more time you'll have to practice.Practice it plenty of times alone, using the resources you'll rely on at the event, and, as you practice, tweak your words until they flow smoothly and easily. Then, if appropriate, do a dummy run in front of a small audience: this will help you calm your jitters and make you feel more comfortable with the material. Your audience can also give you useful feedback, both on your material and on your performance.

Engage With Your Audience

When you speak, try to engage your audience. This makes you feel less isolated as a speaker and keeps everyone involved with your message. If appropriate, ask leading questions targeted to individuals or groups, and encourage people to participate and ask questions.

Keep in mind that some words reduce your power as a speaker. For instance, think about how these sentences sound: "I just want to add that I think we can meet these goals" or "I just think this plan is a good one." The words "just" and "I think" limit your authority and conviction. Don't use them.A similar word is "actually," as in, "Actually, I'd like to add that we were under budget last quarter." When you use "actually," it conveys a sense of submissiveness or even surprise. Instead, say what things are. "We were under budget last quarter" is clear and direct.Also, pay attention to how you're speaking. If you're nervous, you might talk quickly. This increases the chances that you'll trip over your words, or say something you don't mean. Force yourself to slow down by breathing deeply. Don't be afraid to gather your thoughts; pauses are an important part of conversation, and they make you sound confident, natural, and authentic.Finally, avoid reading word-for-word from your notes. Instead, make a list of important points on cue cards, or, as you get better at public speaking, try to memorize what you're going to say – you can still refer back to your cue cards when you need them.

Pay Attention to Body Language

If you're unaware of it, your body language will give your audience constant, subtle clues about your inner state. If you're nervous, or if you don't believe in what you're saying, the audience can soon know. Pay attention to your body language: stand up straight, take deep breaths, look people in the eye, and smile. Don't lean on one leg or use gestures that feel unnatural. Many people prefer to speak behind a podium when giving presentations. While podiums can be useful for holding notes, they put a barrier between you and the audience. They can also become a "crutch," giving you a hiding place from the dozens or hundreds of eyes that are on you.

Instead of standing behind a podium, walk around and use gestures to engage the audience. This movement and energy will also come through in your voice, making it more active and passionate.

Think Positively

Positive thinking can make a huge difference to the success of your communication, because it helps you feel more confident.Fear makes it all too easy to slip into a cycle of negative self-talk, especially right before you speak, while self-sabotaging thoughts such as "I'll never be good at this!" or "I'm going to fall flat on my face!" lower your confidence and increase the chances that you won't achieve what you're truly capable of.Use affirmations and visualization to raise your confidence. This is especially important right before your speech or presentation. Visualize giving a successful presentation, and imagine how you'll feel once it's over and when you've made a positive difference for others. Use positive affirmations such as "I'm grateful I have the opportunity to help my audience" or "I'm going to do well!"

Cope With Nerves

How often have you listened to or watched a speaker who really messed up? Chances are, the answer is "not very often."When we have to speak in front of others, we can envision terrible things happening. We imagine forgetting every point we want to make, passing out from our nervousness, or doing so horribly that we'll lose our job. But those things almost never come to pass! We build them up in our minds and end up more nervous than we need to be.Many people cite public speaking as their biggest fear, and a fear of failure is often at the root of this. Public speaking can lead your "fight or flight" response to kick in: adrenaline courses through your bloodstream, your heart rate increases, you sweat, and your breath becomes fast and shallow.Although these symptoms can be annoying or even debilitating, the Inverted-UModel shows that a certain amount of pressure enhances performance. By changing your mindset, you can use nervous energy to your advantage.

First, make an effort to stop thinking about yourself, your nervousness, and your fear. Instead, focus on your audience: what you're saying is "about them." Remember that you're trying to help or educate them in some way, and your message is more important than your fear. Concentrate on the audience's wants and needs, instead of your own.If time allows, use deep breathing exercises to slow your heart rate and give your body the oxygen it needs to perform. This is especially important right before you speak. Take deep breaths from your belly, hold each one for several seconds, and let it out slowly.Crowds are more intimidating than individuals, so think of your speech as a conversation that you're having with one person. Although your audience may be 100 people, focus on one friendly face at a time, and talk to that person as if he or she is the only one in the room.

Watch Recordings of Your Speeches

Whenever possible, record your presentations and speeches. You can improve your speaking skills dramatically by watching yourself later, and then working on improving in areas that didn't go well.As you watch, notice any verbal stalls, such as "um" or "like." Look at your body language: are you swaying, leaning on the podium, or leaning heavily on one leg? Are you looking at the audience? Did you smile? Did you speak clearly at all times? Pay attention to your gestures. Do they appear natural or forced? Make sure that people can see them, especially if you're standing behind a podium.Last, look at how you handled interruptions, such as a sneeze or a question that you weren't prepared for. Does your face show surprise, hesitation, or annoyance? If so, practice managing interruptions like these smoothly, so that you're even better next time.

Key Points

Chances are that you'll sometimes have to speak in public as part of your role. While this can seem intimidating, the benefits of being able to speak well outweigh any perceived fears. To become a better speaker, use the following strategies:

Plan appropriately.

 Practice.

 Engage with your audience.

 Pay attention to body language.

 Think positively.

 Cope with your nerves.

 Watch recordings of your speeches.

If you speak well in public, it can help you get a job or promotion, raise awareness for your team or organization, and educate others. The more you push yourself to speak in front of others, the better you'll become, and the more confidence you'll have.

The 25 Public Speaking Skills Every Speaker Must Have

Every public speaker should be able to:

Research a topic – Good speakers stick to what they know. Great speakers research what they need to convey their message.

Focus – Help your audience grasp your message by focusing on your message. Stories, humour, or other “sidebars” should connect to the core idea. Anything that doesn’t needs to be edited out.

Organize ideas logically – A well-organized presentation can be absorbed with minimal mental strain. Bridging is key.

Employ quotations, facts, and statistics – Don’t include these for the sake of including them, but do use them appropriately to complement your ideas.

Master metaphors – Metaphors enhance the understandability of the message in a way that direct language often can not.

Tell a story – Everyone loves a story. Points wrapped up in a story are more memorable, too!

Start strong and close stronger – The body of your presentation should be strong too, but your audience will remember your first and last words (if, indeed, they remember anything at all).

Incorporate humour – Knowing when to use humour is essential. So is developing the comedic timing to deliver it with greatest effect.

Vary vocal pace, tone, and volume – A monotone voice is like fingernails on the chalkboard.

Punctuate words with gestures – Gestures should complement your words in harmony. Tell them how big the fish was, and show them with your arms.

Utilize 3-dimensional space – Chaining yourself to the lectern limits the energy and passion you can exhibit. Lose the notes, and lose the chain.

Complement words with visual aids – Visual aids should aid the message; they should not be the message. Read slide:ology or the Presentation Zen book and adopt the techniques.

Analyze your audience – Deliver the message they want (or need) to hear.

Connect with the audience – Eye contact is only the first step. Aim to have the audience conclude “This speaker is just like me!” The sooner, the better.

Interact with the audience – Ask questions (and care about the answers). Solicit volunteers. Make your presentation a dialogue.

Conduct a Q&A session – Not every speaking opportunity affords a Q&A session, but understand how to lead one productively. Use the Q&A to solidify the impression that you are an expert, not (just) a speaker.

Lead a discussion – Again, not every speaking opportunity affords time for a discussion, but know how to engage the audience productively.

Obey time constraints – Maybe you have 2 minutes. Maybe you have 45. Either way, customize your presentation to fit the time allowed, and respect your audience by not going over time.

Craft an introduction – Set the context and make sure the audience is ready to go, whether the introduction is for you or for someone else.

Exhibit confidence and poise – These qualities are sometimes difficult for a speaker to attain, but easy for an audience to sense.

Handle unexpected issues smoothly – Maybe the lights will go out. Maybe the projector is dead. Have a plan to handle every situation.

Be coherent when speaking off the cuff – Impromptu speaking (before, after, or during a presentation) leaves a lasting impression too. Doing it well tells the audience that you are personable, and that you are an expert who knows their stuff beyond the slides and prepared speech.

Seek and utilize feedback – Understand that no presentation or presenter (yes, even you!) is perfect. Aim for continuous improvement, and understand that the best way to improve is to solicit candid feedback from as many people as you can.

Listen critically and analyze other speakers – Study the strengths and weakness of other speakers.

Act and speak ethically – Since public speaking fears are so common, realize the tremendous power of influence that you hold. Use this power responsibly.

Public speaking skills

For many people, standing up in public and doing a speech is one of their greatest fears. For many language students in particular, this is the ultimate challenge. In this article we will look at some ways we can help intermediate level students to overcome the difficulties involved and explore some techniques for making their speeches as impressive as possible.

What is public speaking?

Why is public speaking useful for students?

What techniques can we teach our students?

Common problems and solutions

Giving and encouraging feedback

Conclusion

What is public speaking? Public speaking involves talking in front of a group of people, usually with some preparation. It can be in front of people that you know (e.g. at a family celebration) or a crowd of strangers. Unlike a presentation there normally isn’t a lot of opportunity for interaction between the audience and the speaker – the speaker speaks, and the audience (hopefully) listens.  Speeches have different functions. These include being persuasive (e.g. trying to convince the audience to vote for you), informative (e.g. speaking about the dangers of climate change), entertaining (e.g. a best man’s speech at a wedding) or celebratory (e.g. to introduce the winner of an award). Some speeches may have more than one of these aims. Why is public speaking useful for students? Most people, at some point in their life, will need to stand up and speak in front of a group of people. Teaching students the necessary skills for doing this will therefore help them to do this more successfully. As a result of the practice, students often report an increase in general confidence as well as a marked sense of achievement. Many students get incredibly nervous the first time they have to do a speech in front of their classmates but with practice the nerves subside and they usually begin to enjoy the whole process.  Working on public speaking also helps to develop students’ overall fluency and requires them to consider how they speak as well as what they say. This is useful for speaking in any situation, public or otherwise. What techniques can we teach our students? a) Ideas / content generation Lots of students find getting started quite difficult. It’s a good idea to give students either a type of public speech that you would like them to do, or a particular topic. It’s often useful to get students working in groups at the planning stage, helping each other to come up with ideas.  Showing students a variety of ways of making notes of ideas works well as not everyone likes the same methods. These could include mind-mapping, making lists or writing ideas on post-it notes and then arranging them on a piece of paper into groups. b) Structure Stress the importance of having a beginning, middle and end and keep reminding them of this. You might then like to give them a standard introduction to use for their first speech. For example, “Good evening. My name is x and today I am going to talk about y. I will talk about three main areas, x, y and z’. This then gives them a focus for the structure of the rest of the speech. It can seem a little dry, however, so once they get the idea it’s worth experimenting with different styles of beginning – e.g. using jokes and anecdotes.  Many students are so relieved to have got to their end of their speech that they rush the conclusion or sometimes completely forget to do one. Again, a suggested format may help them to summarise what they have said. c) Body language There are various statistics for how much of our communication is done through our body language – they seem to hover around 70%, which is a massive chunk, so some work in this area is a very good idea.

Posture: Doing an activity where you get everyone to stand up and then suddenly ‘freeze’ works well. You then ask everyone to stay still but look around at how everyone is standing. Then try getting everyone to stand straight and well-centred, behind the podium if you have one to use. You’ll be surprised how many people rock from side to side or slouch. Sounds pretty basic but it can make a big difference to how confident and in control someone appears to be.

Gestures: One way to practise these is to give out some sentences with key words in them, such as “I caught a fish and it was this big!” or “there are three important reasons why you should vote for me”. Ask the students to practise saying these sentences while standing up and work out what gestures might be the most appropriate. Stress the importance of keeping gestures controlled.

Eye contact: It’s very important that speakers make eye contact with all areas of the room, ideally with every person but with large audiences that isn’t possible. Many students tend to look at one spot or at the teacher. One way to practise this is to ask each student to do a short 30 second introduction and then at the end get any student who feels the speaker did not look in his/her direction to raise their hand.

d) Chunking (pauses and stress) This is a technique which can help speakers to sound much more confident and increase the overall effectiveness of their speech. The theory is that when we do this type of speaking we stress the key words in a sentence which carry the meaning, e.g. “I DON’T want you to just SIT there and DO NOTHING” We also pause after many of these key words, and at the end of a sentence.  To practise this, try playing your students an example of a speech – Earl Spencer’s eulogy speech for Diana is a good one for this, or Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’. Ask them to listen and identify the stressed words and pauses from a small section of the speech and then practise delivering it in the same manner. They can then mark the stress and pauses on their own speeches and practise incorporating the idea into their own work. It really makes a difference! Common problems and solutions Lack of confidence This is very common and one that only practice, practice and more practice will help to overcome. You could also try getting the students to first speak in front of three or four others, then adding to the number as they become more confident.  Reminding students to breath properly while they’re speaking as well as thinking positively about their ability to speak well will also help, along with lots of encouragement! Speaking too fast This is another common one, usually caused by nerves. Try getting them to do the introduction of the speech in an exaggeratedly slow manner. Once they have done this a few times they may find it easier to find a middle ground. Appropriacy of body language If this is a problem, try videoing the speaker and asking them to watch themselves. They will usually be able to identify where the problems lie and then work on improving these areas. Raising awareness is the most important thing here. Boring speeches! It’s really important to get the students to think carefully about their audience when planning their speech. For example, if they want to do a speech about the dangers of smoking, but no one in the class smokes, this probably won’t be very interesting.  Encourage the students to think of creative ideas for their speeches - do the planning stage in class so that you and the other students can monitor and give advice on topics that look like they might get a few yawns. Appropriacy of style Here again it is important that the students think about their audience. You might like to play them several different examples of famous speeches and ask them to comment on the style and discuss the purpose of the speech and the audience, before reflecting on their own. Plagiarism of material Unfortunately this is a very common problem. One way to tackle this is to ask the students not to write out their speeches in full but to use only notes or key words to help them deliver their speech. This then increases the chances of them being more original with the delivery. Another option is to collect in the speeches and run whole sentences through an internet search engine to see if it comes up with anything. And of course, impress upon your students the importance of doing their own work! Giving and encouraging feedback This is a very important part of the process and can take three general forms:  1. Peer 2. From the teacher 3. Video-taping and playback

For feedback from peers and from the teacher it’s best to choose particular areas to give feedback on for each speech, rather than trying to cover everything. This might be based on the techniques you have recently been looking at in class (e.g. using gestures, chunking, structure, etc.) or as a result of feedback on a previous speech.

It’s a good idea to go through what you expect of the students when giving peer feedback as sometimes students can be very vague. Make up a sheet with a (short) list of the areas to look at to help them focus their comments and encourage them to say positive as well as constructive things.

Video-taping is an invaluable method of helping students to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie. The only drawback, apart from the technical side of using the camera, is the time it takes to do and playback. This can be partially overcome by videoing sections of speeches, rather than the whole thing for each student.

Know the needs of your audience and match your contents to their needs.  Know your material thoroughly. Put what you have to say in a logical sequence. Ensure your speech will be captivating to your audience as well as worth their time and attention. Practice and rehearse your speech at home or where you can be at ease and comfortable, in front of a mirror, your family, friends or colleagues. Use a tape-recorder and listen to yourself. Videotape your presentation and analyze it.  Know what your strong and weak points are. Emphasize your strong points during your presentation.

When you are presenting in front of an audience, you are performing as an actor is on stage. How you are being perceived is very important. Dress appropriately for the occasion. Be solemn if your topic is serious. Present the desired image to your audience. Look pleasant, enthusiastic, confident, proud, but not arrogant. Remain calm. Appear relaxed, even if you feel nervous. Speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and show appropriate emotion and feeling relating to your topic. Establish rapport with your audience. Speak to the person farthest away from you to ensure your voice is loud enough to project to the back of the room. Vary the tone of your voice and dramatize if necessary. If a microphone is available, adjust and adapt your voice accordingly.

Body language is important. Standing, walking or moving about with appropriate hand gesture or facial expression is preferred to sitting down or standing still with head down and reading from a prepared speech. Use audio-visual aids or props for enhancement if appropriate and necessary. Master the use of presentation software such as PowerPoint well before your presentation. Do not over-dazzle your audience with excessive use of animation, sound clips, or gaudy colors which are inappropriate for your topic. Do not torture your audience by putting a lengthy document in tiny print on an overhead and reading it out to them.

Speak with conviction as if you really believe in what you are saying. Persuade your audience effectively. The material you present orally should have the same ingredients as that which are required for a written research paper, i.e. a logical progression from INTRODUCTION (Thesis statement) to BODY (strong supporting arguments, accurate and up-to-date information) to CONCLUSION (re-state thesis, summary, and logical conclusion).

Do not read from notes for any extended length of time although it is quite acceptable to glance at your notes infrequently. Speak loudly and clearly. Sound confident. Do not mumble. If you made an error, correct it, and continue. No need to make excuses or apologize profusely.

Maintain sincere eye contact with your audience. Use the 3-second method, e.g. look straight into the eyes of a person in the audience for 3 seconds at a time. Have direct eye contact with a number of people in the audience, and every now and then glance at the whole audience while speaking. Use your eye contact to make everyone in your audience feel involved.

Speak to your audience, listen to their questions, respond to their reactions, adjust and adapt. If what you have prepared is obviously not getting across to your audience, change your strategy mid-stream if you are well prepared to do so. Remember that communication is the key to a successful presentation. If you are short of time, know what can be safely left out. If you have extra time, know what could be effectively added. Always be prepared for the unexpected.

Pause. Allow yourself and your audience a little time to reflect and think. Don't race through your presentation and leave your audience, as well as yourself, feeling out of breath.

Add humor whenever appropriate and possible. Keep audience interested throughout your entire presentation. Remember that an interesting speech makes time fly, but a boring speech is always too long to endure even if the presentation time is the same.

When using audio-visual aids to enhance your presentation, be sure all necessary equipment is set up and in good working order prior to the presentation. If possible, have an emergency backup system readily available.  Check out the location ahead of time to ensure seating arrangements for audience, whiteboard, blackboard, lighting, location of projection screen, sound system, etc. are suitable for your presentation.

Have handouts ready and give them out at the appropriate time. Tell audience ahead of time that you will be giving out an outline of your presentation so that they will not waste time taking unnecessary notes during your presentation.

Know when to STOP talking. Use a timer or the microwave oven clock to time your presentation when preparing it at home. Just as you don't use unnecessary words in your written paper, you don't bore your audience with repetitious or unnecessary words in your oral presentation. To end your presentation, summarize your main points in the same way as you normally do in the CONCLUSION of a written paper. Remember, however, that there is a difference between spoken words appropriate for the ear and formally written words intended for reading. Terminate your presentation with an interesting remark or an appropriate punch line. Leave your listeners with a positive impression and a sense of completion. Do not belabor your closing remarks. Thank your audience and sit down.

Have the written portion of your assignment or report ready for your instructor if required.

Speakers' Advice to Speakers

The following responses are from Public Speakers after completing a Speech Class with Ron St. John. The Public Speakers offered their advice to future Speech students, and to all who want to improve as Public Speakers. A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to all of the Public Speakers who offered their advice so that others may improve as Public Speakers. Due to the overwhelming response from the Public Speakers to offer advice to other Speakers I will amend and update the list in an attempt to include all of your responses on a rotating basis. I appreciate your efforts and I know that these comments will help others improve, as WE all have improved throughout the semester. This page is a tribute to your improvement, so that you may continue your success as Public Speakers, and so that others may follow in your "podium-steps."

"WE ARE PUBLIC SPEAKERS!!!"

Public Speakers were asked: "Knowing what you know now, how would you improve your public speaking skills, and what would you tell others so that they can improve their speaking skills?"

Public Speakers' Advice to Public Speakers:

 I think the biggest advice I can give is to be prepared. Don't wait till the last minute to write or practice your speech. Also when other people are giving their speeches be attentive. You can learn a lot by watching others speak. The things that I have done to improve has been giving speeches. Each speech that I gave I improved from the last one. You need to realize that public speaking is not easy, but with practice you can and will improve. --Jon

If I were giving advice on how to improve at public speaking, I'd say get to know your classmates. It makes speaking easier. Speak in a conversational tone, and use lots of examples that you won't need to read from your cards. It improves your speech 100%. Also, practice a whole lot before giving a speech. Don't use your outline or cards as a crutch. Try hard to use gestures from the very beginning. It takes practice. Anonymous

Knowing what I know now, I would have improved my public speaking by getting my outlines done earlier, creating better introductions, and being more enthusiastic during my presentations. I think that if my outlines would have been ready for evaluation even ahead of the due date, my final draft would have been exponentially better with more revisions of revisions. I also learned that one of the keys to a good audience reaction is a good intro, if you get them hooked initially, they'll stay for the ride no matter how bad it is after the first five sentences. Finally, it took me until the MSP [second to last] speech to figure it out, but if you act like you're having fun and you know what the heck you're talking about, people will listen, even if you're talking about boring stuff. ---Kai

Hey, Knowing what I know now, I would of practiced my speeches more and remembered that I should not be nervous because my audience is nervous for me. NICOLE

 What would I do to improve my public speaking? Simple: Practice, and be aware of myself at all times during the speech. By practicing my Informative speech with [visual aids], I could have avoided that embarrassing little time snafu. Also, my problems are a high rate of speech, as well as constantly changing position behind the podium, as well as poor hand gestures/position. If I would practice these speeches WITH A PODIUM, I would feel a lot more comfortable speaking behind one, and thus would hopefully improve upon my aforementioned problems. Mark

 I think one of the things that has helped me the most in public speaking is learning to have confidence in myself. And after I got to know everyone in the class, it got even easier to be confident. I think that it is very important for people to get to know each other in class and to become a team :) ---Lei

The only advice that I can think of is to make sure that a student would adequately prepare for everything. We've said it plenty of times in the class room, "If you don't prepare, you're only preparing to fail." That phrase speaks the truth. For my first speech, I didn't prepare as well as I should have and my performance indicated that. With every speech after that, my preparation techniques got better and more thorough. The result was in my presentations and grades. Other advice for future students would be to find some type of stress relieving activity to do before any speech. They need to find some way to get rid of their nervous energy so that their message can be heard with clarity. Any form of exercise will do or just some relaxing time doing nothing, whatever suits their needs. Sincerely, Steve

Knowing what I know now about preparing for and giving speeches, I could give advice to people who will be entering speech classes next semester or anywhere in the future, or to anyone giving a speech for any class. I have come to realize that preparation is the key to any speech of any kind. A person could be the most excellent speech giver, but if that person is unprepared, the speech will not be as good as it could be. Gathering information that backs up the points you wish you make is the key. Using statistics and giving scenarios or examples to emphasize your key ideas aids greatly in giving a speech. I have also found that practicing a lot before giving the speech will benefit also. If you don't practice, you will end up looking at your note cards a lot. Doing this not only makes you looked unprepared, but it also keeps you from using more hand gestures and being able to speak to the audience in a conversational tone. The formats we learned for giving informative and persuasive speeches also helped me a lot. They were great outlines for how to organize a speech so that it flows well and the key points are remembered by the audience. One thing I have personally come to find out that aids me when I am giving a speech is to stand up in front of your audience for a few minutes before beginning the speech. This helps me to become more comfortable with being up in front of everyone and helps me to relax before beginning. Several other people have told me this helps them as well. Knowing what I know now about public speaking, I feel well prepared to give any kind of speech or presentation in any class or any situation outside of class. I truly feel more confident about my speaking abilities. Hopefully I can pass this on to others if they need my help or ask my advice. The one thing that will forever be stuck in my mind as I continue on in life are those five little words--I am a public speaker. LeeAnn

The first thing I would tell myself and anyone else taking the class, is to get over the fear and nervousness. When you're that tense, everything from your eye contact to your posture is hard to do. Find a relaxation technique for your first speech instead of much later in the semester. My other piece of advice would be prepare and practice. It is extremely important to know the information you are presenting. If you do, you won't be worried about stumbling or losing your place. You can skim your note card and sort of wing it if you miss a part. If you don't know the speech, it will be obvious and you can't afford to lose your place. Practicing is just as important as preparing. Just because you know the information, you have to practice to get comfortable and make sure the speech flows. It might not sound the way it looks on paper. Practicing also allows you to start using any visuals or gestures that you might use in the speech. Scott

If I knew at the beginning of this semester what I know now, I would have done things a lot differently. For starters, I wouldn't have been as nervous, after all we are all public speakers. Seriously though, I would have put a lot more effort and preparation into my first few speeches. I simply didn't practice enough or correctly. At first, I thought oh well I will just get up there and read off of my notes and then I will be done. That just won't work though. The speech should be well thought out and practiced until the speaker knows what he or she will say exactly. I also found out that practicing in front of a mirror or a group of friends really helps. But above all I would have practiced, practiced, practiced. ---Brandy

Q: What advice would I give myself or any other student at the beginning of this course? A: I would say that the speeches are not a torture for you to endure. They are a medium that you can use to get any point you would like to out to a nonthreatining audience. The best part is that the class is to assist you in the development of public speaking skills. Also the first mental state you must set your self in from day one is that you are a public speaker and all this class is for is to fine tune your skills. If you realize this plus you relax, write and deliver your speeches with compassion then all your speeches will be masterpieces. ---Daniel

There are so many things I wish I would have known before taking speech class, but I'll just name a few things. First of all how important it is to be excited about your topic. If you don't care then it will reflect on your speech. I also wish I would have been more excited about the class, but having senioritis did not help that at all. Practicing giving your speech is important too and I don't think I realized that until half way into the semester. Practice helps you be more confident. Although you won't always know your audience when speaking, it's really nice when you can feel close to your audience and know that they are going to care about what you have to say. As our class got to know each other better, we had more respect for each person speaking this made a difference in our speeches I think. Anyway that's what I sort of think about the whole speech class experience. Karsee

I would have to say that the single most thing you can do to succeed in this class is prepare. If you prepare for every speech and give yourself a fair amount of time to go over it you will have no worries. Also another thing you can do is not get worked up about the little things that happen during a speech. If you stumble on a word or forget a sentence its no big deal, just go on and finish the best you can, it happens to everyone at sometime or another. Learn to roll with the punches and you will do fine. Good luck. Will.

 Knowing what I know now, I think the one thing that I would have done is prepare more. In all of the speeches that I gave, I believe that more preparation would have made them all much better. I always meant to practice my speech in front of an audience before I gave the speech in class, but I never did, and I really regret that. I believe that would have been very beneficial. More preparation would have made me more relaxed when I gave my speeches, and it would have also made my speeches more interesting because it would have given me more time to be creative instead of having to come up with something at the last minute. So, my advice would definitely be PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!!!!! You can never prepare too much! --Nick

Advice for all you speech students/Public Speakers: preparation is the key to success in this class. I found this out first hand, when I didn't prepare enough or early enough and ended up getting a grade a didn't really want. If there's one thing I've learned, it's this: by failing to prepare, you prepare to fail. But don't think you can't have fun in this class. If you come up with some cheers to give each other before the speeches, it is pretty cool. I know a lot of people get nervous before speeches, but if you prepare ahead of time and keep a positive, confident attitude, this will be a fun/valuable learning experience. --Jeff

I guess my advice would be to prepare ahead. Always do speeches on topics you are familiar with and things you like. I would also say that you can never practice a speech to much. Do it over and over again. It also helps to do it front of people so that they can critique you. This class requires a lot of work so budget your time and schedule your speeches on days that you know you can get a lot of practice in before the real thing. Also always remember to RELAX. --Kari

The advice I would give someone beginning a speech class would be the method of preparation. When I started out in the class I memorized speeches. I did this in high school also. Through the class I learned that it is much better for the presentation and it is also easier to know the material you are speaking about rather than trying to memorize words. In a sentence my advice would be "in giving a speech, memorize the ideas you have come up with rather than the words you have brought together." --Tim

Knowing at the beginning of the course in January what I know now, there is one thing that I would have done differently. The key word here is is preparation. Ron will stress this at the beginning of the semester. Take it very seriously. I always felt for each and every speech, except maybe the impromptus that I was well-prepared. However, when I am in front of the class delivering my speech I tend to get distracted, whether by certain inattentive members of the audience or for whatever reason. This distraction would cause me to lose my train of thought and that is when my eyes are drawn back down to my outline. So, however prepared I felt before I went in to give my speech, I usually found that I could have been more prepared by knowing the sequence of main points better in my head, so that I could move from point to point without being distracted. I suggest to any new members that will take speech that you should practice until you are absolutely positive that your speech is the best it can be... and to constantly run through the sequence of the speech in your head until you know it like the back of your hand. Good Luck and remember: Preparation is everything. --Amy

 There are several things that incoming students should take advice about. One, the constant reminder that they ARE PUBLIC SPEAKERS!!! Also, the idea that the class is a team. I have never had an instructor approach a class in that way. It did make me feel like I was part of a team and that the class did want me to succeed. This helped a great deal whenever I would get nervous. I also think that the visualization is good. It made me believe I was going to give a good speech. One last thing that I think the students should have the privilege of, is the roaring cheers before each speech. Although funny at times,they did help me relax before I began my speech. --Andrew

 I would have to say, the one thing I would pass on to those who are going to be taking this class in the future, is to use whatever aspect of your personality you can to make you a better public speaker. I know for myself, I am an extremely outgoing and lively person in all casual settings, thus I had to allow that same dominant part of my personality show through in order to make my presentations more readily received. Also, preparation is key. The job you do is so much better when you have practiced and fully prepared for the preparation. Partial preparation will not cut it, it will be shown in your presentation. Correspondingly, listen to the advice and tips that your teacher or professor gives you. He or she has been at this for much longer than you have and havelearned the ins and outs for becoming a better public speaker. Try to relax as much as possible before presenting, I know when you are standing there and a sea of people are staring blankly at you, your nerves begin to run rampant, but think of it as having a conversation with several different people at once. -Triston

 What would I have changed in the beginning of the semester with the skills I now know? I would have been more confident about my speeches. I have also learned that eye contact is the key! I didn't learn that from my own speeches, but by watching others. My advice to someone taking this class would be to jump right into it. Don't be scared about having to get up in front of the class. That is the worst thing you can do. The only reason you should be nervous is if you are unprepared. Practice is a must. If you don't know your speech, it will show. If you do know it, you will have much better eye contact and eye contact shows confidence in what you are saying. I have learned a great deal from this class and I know I will have to use it some time in my life. Andrea

 This is my advice to incoming students. Don't think that you are not going to do well in the class because you've had difficulty in the past with public speaking. The class is an excellent opportunity to enhance your public speaking skills. YOU ARE A PUBLIC SPEAKER!!!! Good luck in all you do. Jennifer

 I guess one thing that I would tell people who were to enroll in this class would be to come in with an open mind. I had a speech course last year in high school and I thought there was nothing more to learn. I guess I have learned a little more than I expected this semester. Last year I did not have to prepare as much as I did this year. Last year my teacher liked me so no matter how I did I always got an "A." I'm not saying I wanted that to happen, but that was the way he was with the students he liked. I still learned from him, but I did not have to try as hard as others. This semester I learned that better preparation is very helpful in not making you so nervous. If you know what to say when you get up there then things like eye contact and hand gestures come more easily. I just wish I would have prepared more in the beginning because I was capable of getting an "A" when instead I am barely getting a "B." Thank You for helping me realize there was still some things I needed to learn. Sincerely, Rhea

Now that the semester is over, if I could look back I would have told myself a few things. First, practice your speech to no end. A speaker who has his speech down will feel less nervous than an unprepared speaker. Next, memorize the outline format for making speeches early. It will be used throughout the semester, and will be tested on. So take the extra time early in the semester to memorize it. Finally, make sure to videotape your speeches and review them afterwards. Make note of how you felt, what you thought went well, and what you can improve on. Reviewing your speech also helps to improve tone, voice rate, and posture. --Zack

 The adivce that I would give a student taking a speech class next year would be to always prepare for your speeches, and not to worry when you're giving your speech. It doesn't help at all to be nervous while giving your speech. If you're prepared it shouldn't be a problem. Another thing would be not to worry about the impromtus either. Those I think were some of the best speeches that I gave the entire semester. The key is to just to be confident about what you're saying even if you don't know what you're talking about. If you're confident then they won't know that you don't have any idea what you're talking about. Overall, I would say don't worry too much about talking in front of a group. I didn't like to do it either before I got into the class, but afterwards I felt much better about giving a speech. The only thing that you really need to do is prepare well and be confident about what you're speaking on. That's about all I can offer in the way of advice. One last thing I have to say is good luck, and remember, you are a PUBLIC SPEAKER! ---John S.