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Public Speaking 101

GLOSSOPHOBIA! Nope, it’s not a spell but it is a curse. It’s the fear of public speaking. According to The Book of Lists, public speaking is the greatest human fear. Other fears on the list includes heights, insects, snakes, sickness, and even death. When people say they would rather die than give a speech, THEY ARE SERIOUS!

Break the Curse!

Regardless of who you are or what you do, being able to communicate in a public setting is a necessary skill. People need to be able to express themselves effectively in order to succeed in school, in the workplace, and in life. Preparation goes a long way to overcome this fear. The more prepared a person is, the more confident one becomes. Read on a few tips and work your way to becoming an effective communicator.

Master the Five-Point Formula

Bet you’ve never noticed this but just about every lecture is structured in a pretty similar manner. Just like how you’ve been instructed to write essays, the standard presentation goes like this…


Think of something that will grab your classmate’s attention or wake them up. It could be a question, a statement, a story or maybe a joke? As the person in front of them, you should be able to control your audience. As a general rule, your intro should be related to the topic you want to discuss.


"I'm here to discuss the three main reasons why ..."

What are you going to talk about in your presentation? Here’s a great tip: Use numbers. People’s attention spans are so short and their time are valuable so giving them a number will help them keep track of your ideas. Depending on your speech’s length, the usual number of points should be 3-5. Shorter presentations should be made with just one or two.


Here you should cover the meat of your presentation and key points can be illustrated or reinforced with stories, material or examples.


Don’t worry about repetition. The listener has the ability to take little side trips so to get your key points across, repetition is usually good and sometimes even necessary.


This is the last but maybe the most important thing most audiences hear and thus becomes a key point in the retention of your message. No matter how you would want to end your presentation, keep in mind that the last minute is critical to convey what you want and leave an impression on your audience.


On the D-day

 The time has finally arrived. You hear your name being announced — is it too late to duck out? We all have experienced most or all of these feelings at some time in our life, but you are prepared. You are ready!

Use natural gestures

One way to determine this is to have a friend or instructor observe you while speaking. Even better, have someone videotape your performance so you can see your gestures. View the tape with another person because what affects us might affect an audience differently.

Involve your audience

The most successful speakers make their audiences feel like they are part of the presentation. A question might be a way to get them involved.

Use voice variations

Nothing is more boring than a speaker who drones on and on in a monotone voice without any variation invoice. To avoid this and to keep people from taking the side trips, speed up or slow down to emphasize points. Or raise your voice (don’t yell — just raise your voice) to illustrate your message

Dress appropriately

Remember that speakers never get a second chance to make a first impression and audiences see the speaker long before they hear the message. Don’t dress such that your audience has formed a negative impression before you ever speak.

Make eye contact

By making contact with members of your audience, they’ll feel you are speaking only to them. This will demonstrate your sincerity and that of your message.


Do’s & Don’ts in Presenting

Don’t eat or drink dairy products just before speaking. Dairy products leave a coating which tends to dry out the throat and mouth during a presentation.

Don’t drink cold beverages. Cold liquids tend to contract the throat muscles, making speaking difficult. Warm water, tea, or coffee tend to relax the throat muscles making speech easier.

Do Manage your nerves. All speakers have butterflies, but the professional speaker learns to have them fly and you can too! Being nervous is natural and means you care. Take deep breaths in through the nose and out the mouth. Don’t hyperventilate — just breathe easy.

Do Show up early for your presentation. Check on the room arrangements. Are your presentation slides ready? How about the microphone? Is the projector working? What else should you check?