In college I failed at public speaking. In fact, on many occasions when I was presenting I would forget what I was even talking about. I decided then that I would never have a job that required me to speak in public!
Little did I know that my job now requires me to speak in public everyday! By now I’ve presented in front of crowds where the audience is more experienced than I. However, once I am done presenting I feel exhilarated! I’ve hit all of my key topics, engaged my audience and had them leaving my presentation learning something new.
At some point in your life, whether college or in your career, you’ll have to speak in front of a public audience, no matter your career path! It’s time to face it now and conquer public speaking. With my tips you can do it!
Tip #1: Create a script, but don’t write it down
I know how this sounds, but the goal is for you to sound natural when you present. You want to make sure when you present that your message is clear and that you’re hitting all your key points. Write down bullet points for each slide of your presentation. Instead of reading the bullet points elaborate on each one and then run through it out loud. The first time you run through it may not be smooth, but eventually for each bullet you’ll remember what to say in a natural way.
Tip #2: PowerPoints can be powerful
I love using PowerPoint for several reasons. The first is that they are a good tool to engage your audience. You can use images, quotes or graphs to help keep your audience focused. Try using interesting graphs or quotes that speak for itself to make a big impact on your audience.
Use your PowerPoint to help you stay on track. Sometimes I get lost or I find myself talking too much about a topic. I use bullet points to mark what I should talk about next and try to stick to one main point per slide. For each slide you create know the main point of that slide and build on it. Keep in mind that you should only have a few short bullets on each slide, you don’t want to overwhelm your PowerPoint with too much text.
Tip #3: Practice, practice, practice!
Practice does make perfect! If you’re feeling insecure about your presentation the best way to feel better is to practice. The more you rehearse the more comfortable you’ll feel and the smoother the presentation will sound. Try practicing in front of a mirror, record yourself, or ask a friend to watch. Having feedback or self-review will help you improve your speech, body movement and facial expressions.
What helps me improve is watching other public speakers present. Watching someone else public speak helps me learn new skills that I can bring to my own presentation.
If you are one of those rare people that enjoy public speaking you should look into a major or career that let’s you do just that! Majors like communication, public relation or broadcasting are a good place to start. In those majors you will learn the skills to become a great public speaker.
No matter what your career choice is, whether you’re a TV anchor or a tech engineer that is pitching a new scientific development, having public speaking skills will be useful to you to help you share your voice!