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Public Speaking

Planning Your Speech

Being confident in your speech making and your public speaking means that you should fully prepare for your speech! Here are some tips to write a great speech!

1. Determine the purpose of your speech. Whether it is a persuasive essay, argumentative essay, or just an informative one you need to know why you are giving the speech. Generally you may be told what kind of speech to write for your assignment, but if you have a choice on what type of speech you need to give it's important to know what you want to tell your audience. 

2. Identify your audience. This may depend on your assignment but you need to know your audience to know what type of the information you are giving to them. Are you giving a speech to people who don't have any knowledge on the subject? Experts in the field? Or are you just speaking in front of your professor and fellow classmates? Understanding your audience helps you determine the scope of the detail in your speech and how you can keep the audience captivated. 

3. Create your claim (or thesis). Just like writing a paper, your speech needs a thesis. Your claim is the main idea for your speech, and you will spend your speech providing evidence that supports your claim. 

4. Collect your evidence. You need to support your claim with evidence. Evidence may include: surveys, statistics, anecdotal evidence, or even your own experience. 

5. Start determining how you will organize your speech. Just like an essay, a speech has a similar structure. Your introduction, body, supporting evidence, and conclusion. It's helpful to write down your speech in a similar way you would write an essay. 

Giving Your Speech

Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is very common. Below are some speech-giving tips that can help reduce your anxiety!

1. Talk to someone if you are feeling stressed. Talk to a counselor, your professor, or just a friend. It's always helpful to talk about your worries and get support from people around. 

2. Know what you're talking about. You will be more comfortable reciting your speech when you have some knowledge on the subject. While you are researching and preparing your speech, get some preliminary background information so you feel more confident with the subject. This also helps if you get any surprise questions from your audience!

3. Practice. Practice, practice, practice. In the mirror, in front of some friends, in front of your classmates. Be comfortable with the words, the structure of your speech, and knowing the order in which you will present your main ideas. 

4. Organize your materials. Disorganization the day of your speech can worsen your anxiety! Prepare the night before by setting out all of your demonstrative items (poster, powerpoint, pictures), make sure any notecards are in order, and set aside your clothes if you are dressing up for your speech. It's also important to make sure the technology in the room you are presenting in has everything you need (check with your professor)!

5. Study other speeches. You don't need to study the great orators of the world to learn how to improve your speeches. TED Talks, interviews from people you look up to, and even watching YouTube videos can help improve your public speaking skills. 

6. Don't rely on Powerpoints/posters. Items like Powerpoints and posters that you use for your speech are meant to support you and not be something that you read off of the entire time. If you can do without visual aids or if they are not required for your speech, you may decide not to use any at all. Try to have as little text as possible on them--you won't be able to read off of them and your audience will not be distracted reading the slides. 

7. Focus on your message. Don't get caught up in little details, your stories, or any jokes you may have in your speech. Focus on your claim so your message is understood by your audience. 

8. Don't apologize. Everyone makes a mistake. Technical difficulties can happen to every one. Don't let minor issues such as forgetting a part of your speech or getting a little mixed up derail your presentation. Your audience may not even notice the small mistake. If you feel like you need to make an apology, make a small one and continue on. You've got this!

9. Look around the room. You should always give your audience your full attention. It might be a small classroom of a few students or a massive auditorium but your audience is very important. Focus on different parts of the room that you can spend a few seconds on during the speech. If you can't decide where to look, focus on a specific person. 

10. Be yourself. You can reduce your anxiety by just being yourself. Involved your personality in how you present information; use your pitch and create a style that's meaningful and allows the audience to relate to you. And don't forget to smile!