Public speaking is an essential skill. We need to be confident in front of an audience if we want to achieve our goals.
The problem is that most people lack the confidence to get up and speak in public.
This article will cover 10 public speaking tips for students that will boost your confidence and give you the necessary skills.
The first and most important thing you can do to be a more engaging speaker is to be excited. I know, easier said than done.
But try smiling at the audience! You’ll feel silly at first, but your audience will appreciate it.
Even if you’re not in a particularly good mood, try acting like you are. Your energy will help work yourself up into something like enthusiasm—and your audience will pick up on that and interact with it in a more positive way.
If you’re bored with your speech, it’s likely that everyone else will be too. So relax, smile, and be happy to be there.
Also remember: the more fun you have when speaking, the better chance your listeners have of having fun listening!
Know your audience
Before you even begin to think about the words you’ll use in your speech, take a second to ask yourself this: Who are these people? A speech delivered to a group of three-year-olds will probably not be the same one you’d want to give at a conference for business professionals.
As a general rule, your audience should dictate the tone and substance of your talk.
The more specific you can get about who is going to be listening to you, the better job you’ll do of making sure that what you’re saying is appropriate and engaging for them.
Here’s an example of how I might prepare for two different talks with very different audiences:
- If I was speaking at a conference for entrepreneurs, I would make sure the talk contained real-world examples from my own experiences as an entrepreneur, and I’d cater my language and analogies toward that type of audience.
- If I was speaking at a university event where I knew most attendees were recent college graduates, I would likely focus on content related specifically to life after graduation. In all likelihood, there would be stories from my experience as an entrepreneur—but they might not be writing checks right away after entering their career field like they would if they were older or had some work experience already under their belt..
Show them what you know
In the real world, we have to prove ourselves again and again, because no one will believe we can do something just because we say so. The same is true when you’re speaking in public.
You need to show your audience that you’ve done your research and that what you are saying is true—and the best way to do this is by presenting evidence.
Here are a few ways to provide evidence for what you’re saying:
- Quote famous people. If someone respected in your field says something, it lends credibility to it.
- Use statistics or research results. Numbers don’t lie—which makes them an incredibly powerful tool for proving a point or persuading others. If there are available statistics on a topic, use them!
- Give examples from history, popular culture or personal experience. It’s easier for your listeners to understand an argument when they can relate it directly back to their own lives (or at least to something they already know).
Be prepared to be wrong
Though it might be comforting to believe otherwise, your presentation will not go off without a hitch.
It is up to you as the presenter to accept what has occurred, move on and adapt with grace.
There are many ways to make sure that you don’t get sidetracked or discouraged by a wrong answer or technology failure when presenting:
Anticipate questions before they’re asked.
Think about who is in attendance and what information would be useful to them. Try not to focus on questions that may never come up.
Instead, think of yourself as having all of the information needed for a successful presentation ahead of time and respond accordingly if the questions don’t come up naturally during your talk.”
Know why you’re doing it
Before you step foot on stage, you should know why you’re doing it. There are many different reasons to give presentations.
If your aim is to make money from speaking, then you should probably focus on marketing yourself and getting more gigs.
If your goal is to leave a legacy, then you should probably start writing books and documenting your message in other ways that can be shared long after you’re gone.
If your goal is to help people with a specific problem, then the purpose of each presentation is likely focused on that problem and how it can be solved.
Knowing why you’re giving presentations will help guide the rest of your decisions when it comes to speaking publicly.
Some speakers just love being the center of attention—in which case they may take any gig they can get even if the audience isn’t very targeted or ideal for them (and thus their efforts aren’t as effective).
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with this approach—especially if public speaking also happens to be a hobby or passion for you—it does limit the effectiveness of what one can accomplish as a speaker and thus limits how much success one will experience in terms of overall growth and career development.
Teach them something new
A great way to come up with a public speaking topic is to think of something that you’ve recently learned that your audience may not know.
This could be anything from a new study on memory formation in rats to the best Italian restaurants in Rome.
Or, it could be something you’ve always wanted to learn more about, like the history of vinyl records or the politics of divorce in Sweden.
The key is to find information that interests you and then translate it so that it will interest your audience as well.
You’ll need a clear structure and relevant examples, but if you do this successfully, your talk won’t feel like a chore for either you or your listeners! And remember: humor goes a long way!
If you get nervous, that’s okay
You get nervous during public speaking. This is to be expected because it’s a high-stakes situation.
You’re baring your brain to the world, and that doesn’t feel good or easy for anyone. However, it’s not something you should fear or let control you.
If you take some deep breaths before your speech and remind yourself that everyone in the audience wants the best for you, you’ll be fine!
If you still can’t handle your nerves, practice makes perfect. The more comfortable you are with your materials and with delivering them in front of an audience, the less nervousness will bother you.
The more public speaking opportunities you have throughout your life (high school conference presentations are a great start), the better equipped and confident—and therefore less nervous—you’ll be as an adult when they come up again on the job!
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You are not a robot
Don’t memorize your presentation. You are not a robot. Do not read word for word from your slides.
Simply practice as much as you can so that you can talk naturally and fluidly in front of people.
If you want to crack a joke, do it! It is okay to add some humor to your presentation—but make sure it’s appropriate for the subject matter and audience.
Use your voice and body to show how you feel about the topic you are speaking about.
If you are passionate about something, don’t be afraid to let that passion show through in your voice, body language, facial expressions etc..
In short: Be yourself!
You don’t have to be an expert to say something interesting.
The feeling of being an expert can be overwhelming for students, and often keeps the most interesting and innovative ideas from ever seeing the light of day.
But you don’t have to be an expert to say something interesting. The best TED Talks are not always given by experts, but rather by people who have a unique perspective or story to tell.
Instead of worrying about whether you are “expert enough,” ask yourself if you are telling an interesting story or providing a unique perspective on an existing idea or body of knowledge. Being young doesn’t mean that your voice is any less valuable than anyone else’s, nor does it mean that you should stay silent when you have something important to share.
Whether you’ve had firsthand experience with a social issue like rape culture or gun violence, want to share your previous work in activism or research, or just want to talk about your thoughts on the current state of the world, there is no limit to how engaging your voice can be as a student.
You won’t break the world if you mess up.
Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.
You won’t break the world if you mess up.
It is normal to be nervous and mistakes are part of the process. Your audience is not expecting perfection.
If a mistake happens, just keep going forward and remember that you’re only human and people will understand that too.
Remember also that you will feel better about it afterward, so don’t let your fears and worries get in the way of doing something fun!
Don’t be afraid of public speaking, embrace it and do your best to make it fun.
So, you’re afraid of public speaking. It’s okay, plenty of people are.
In fact, some research shows that it’s a fear that most humans share. But don’t let your fear hold you back—part of learning is taking risks and getting used to being outside your comfort zone! Public speaking doesn’t have to be scary or boring—you can make it an exciting opportunity to connect with an audience and learn from the experience.
Just remember: there are three things in life you can never get back: time, words, and opportunities.
So try not to waste those precious moments by focusing on the negative about yourself or others; instead, make sure you have fun because learning is always more productive when it’s fun for everyone involved!
Public speaking is an unavoidable part of any student’s life, with presentations and class discussions being crucial for anyone looking to succeed at university.
But even for many adults, public speaking can still be a difficult prospect—quite often even more so for students who lack much experience in the field.
With that said, we hope that our advice here can help both you and your students become better equipped for public speaking.