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8/10/07

Tips for Public Speaking

Public speaking is the number one fear for most people. For some reason, many people are nervous, scared, and sometimes downright petrified to speak in front of people. I must admit that I have been nervous before delivering a speech, however, public speaking has never been a real fear of mine. Therefore, I am going to share some tips that will help those who need it, to overcome their fear of public speaking.

First, you must recognize the situation and put it into perspective. For example, speaking as the professor in front of a classroom and speaking as a perspective student in front of a college admissions officer are two completely separate situations. First, the professor must speak in front of many people, while the perspective student usually only has to speak to one person. However, the perspective student will usually feel more pressure and stress due to the nature of the speaking. The professor should feel at ease because the students in his/her classroom are there to learn (in theory) from him/her, therefore, the students will see the professor in a dominant role. The student, on the other hand, will feel like he/she is at the mercy of the admissions interviewer. As the speaker, you need to find a way to create a sense of dominance. Make yourself believe that your audience is there to hang on your every word, that your speech or presentation is what the audience has been waiting for all day, and that you alone control the tempo, pace, and content of your words. If you can do this, you will find confidence and thus, peace when speaking.

Second, prepare, prepare, and prepare. Absent being one of the great historical speakers that have lead countries, movements, and social policy, you most likely will not be able to get up to the podium and/or stage and just “wing” a speech. The more prepared you are to give a speech, the more naturally it will flow from your mouth. The best speeches are the ones that do not sound like speeches, they are the ones that sound like somebody is just talking. Think about like this, you can always tell when an actor/actress is reading from the cue cards or has not memorized his/her dialogue. On the other hand, some actors/actresses have the ability to make you believe that everything they are saying was not prewritten. This is the goal for which you should strive.

Last, be yourself. I know that this is very cliché advice, however, it is very good and true advice. If you try to change your appearance and or speaking style, you are going to make your self more nervous and more anxious.

Stay calm, relax, know that you are dominant, know that you are well prepared, and go out there and knock ‘em dead!



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