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Public Speaking: Tips for Improvement

By Avinash T on July 10, 2024

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I am sure you have heard of the term public speaking before – maybe in English class or perhaps you’ve practiced it yourself while giving a presentation or delivering a speech.

What are your first thoughts when you hear “public speaking”? Is it a feeling of excitement or on the converse, a wave of nervousness. If it’s the latter, don’t be worried–you’re not alone. The reason public speaking is often intimidating is because it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Standing in front of an audience, opening up about yourself, and knowing what to say can be a daunting task. However, with more confidence and a little bit of practice, you can be well on your way to acing your next public speaking assignment.

Prepare and Practice

Yes, you heard that right! They say practice makes perfect, and in the case of public speaking, it is no different. I do want to dispel a common misconception: that you must memorize everything. Practicing for an upcoming speech does not have to be that complicated. Start off easy and build yourself up. Make use of notecards to guide you along and serve as a reference. Oftentimes the best presentations are ones in which the presenter naturally expands upon given information. My personal suggestion when it comes to preparing is to use a mirror and watch yourself give your speech.

Use Hand Gestures

Hand gestures can be an excellent way to keep an audience engaged and convey passion. Gestures, when done right, can emphasize your points, show enthusiasm, and make the overall message easier to follow. A good public speaker is able to engage the audience and get them to understand what you’re presenting.

Make Eye Contact

Eye contact is yet another way in which you can build engagement. Nobody wants to see someone read directly off a script or a set of slides—looking into the audience every now and then can also help build confidence!

Use Visual Aids

Whether it be a diagram, chart, or a handout, visual aids can help the audience stay focused throughout the presentation and lend credibility to the speaker. So don’t hesitate to drop a statistic that supports your point!

Calm any Nerves

As mentioned earlier, public speaking can be daunting. So make sure to take it easy and take a deep breath. Take satisfaction in the fact that you’ve put in a lot of effort and use the presentation as an opportunity to demonstrate what you know. P.S. Even if you mess up, it’s fine--keep going, the audience might not even notice!

Get Feedback from Others

As important as practicing yourself is getting feedback from others. It can be a friend, parent, or adult–really anyone who can take a few minutes to hear your speech and provide their honest feedback. Being open to their feedback before the main event gives you a glimpse of how your speech may be perceived and what you can do to improve before the big day. Ask each person you present to something they liked about it and something they thought could be made better–this allows you to get some good feedback overall.

For extra tips regarding public speaking, feel free to check out this article from Harvard University. Happy presenting!

Thank you Sharon V for editing this article! peer tutoring, for free.


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