30-Day Challenge 3: Public Speaking 101

Question of the Day: What characteristic or trait do you admire most in a person?

Day 03: A picture of you and your friends.

Once again, I have a no-real-photos policy at the moment so I decided to portray my friends and I through Yahoo! avatars. The first Avatar chick is actually me, you see…I am surrounded by books, have my signature “reporter” glasses and have a layered ‘do. :) I’d like to introduce you to my amazing friends, all of whom have some spectacular and distinct personalities:

From left to right, top to bottom…

1) The Red Angel (me!) I don’t look very red and I don’t look like an angel though…
2) Madame Curlique loves the beach and everything that has to do with nature.
3) Jammin’ Poe-Poe is one of those “I JUST WANNA PLAY MY MUSIC” kinda guys.
4) B-Ball4Eva likes sports and is a die-hard fan of our university teams.
5) Mr. Senator has always loved everything politics.
6) Gloss&Shiny has beautiful hair, loves colorful things, and owns a fantastic imagination.

I apologize for the long wait for this post! Finally, all my midterms are over and the stressful study sessions and all-nighters have paid off. Hooray!

~ ~ ~

Probably one of the most frightening experiences you could ever have is speaking in front of a class full of college students. The best thing you can get out of it? A response.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of talking in front of a few Creative Writing/Poetry classes about our literary magazine and what a great opportunity it is to submit work and possibly get published. I’d just like to point out that I stutter, shake, and sweat when I am nervous. Specifically, when I am nervous about speaking in public. Who am I to tell these 18-21 year olds what to do with their time? Who am I to interrupt their daily learning hour (or, rather, Facebook-stalking hour) with my public service announcement? What could I possibly have to say that would interest them?

As a freshman in college, I believe that my public-speaking abilities have improved greatly through the speeches, conferences, interviews, and class talks that I’ve been thrust into participating in. And now that I’m able to talk in front of a group of people and not feel like barfing, I actually somewhat enjoy the experience and have really come to value the importance of such a skill.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Public Speaking

1) DO: Briefly rehearse what you are going to say before the spotlight is on you. Even if you are in a seminar where colloquial discussions are encouraged, it helps a lot if you know what points you want to make and any reasoning you want to add on to make your argument stronger. Or if you, like me, are standing up to persuade your audience to be a part of something or advertise a certain product or thing, make sure you back your information with the types of incentives or positive results that what you are advertising could lead to.

DON’T: Spend hours making note cards or writing a speech out from scratch. 99% of the time, you will end up changing what you say during the actual moment. And then, drifting away from the strictly bullet-pointed dialogue you created might even result in a total screw-up. At the very most, make a short outline of all the most important things you want to talk about and use that as a guide.

2) DO: Make eye contact. This is so much harder than it sounds like, and I know from experience. When you have a hundred, or even just twenty, professors/peers/parents/people staring you down as you speak, it takes all you’ve got to not run away at that moment. But staring right back not only makes you appear to be confident (even if you aren’t), but doing so also lets you identify with your audience on a more personal if unspoken level.

DON’T: Look down. Looking up and looking just to the right or just to the left are all bad, bad, bad…but looking down is the very worst thing you could do. People will eventually get bored with what you have to say, not because what you’re talking about isn’t interesting, but because you look scared and small. Staring at the floor gives such a negative message to the people who are listening, a message that says: OmgIdon’twannabeherepleaselemmegetthisoverwith! Not attractive.

3) DO: Speak with your hands as much as you speak with your voice. For some reason, the use of body language seems to ease the stress of public speakers. A lot. Hand movement helps emphasize what you’re saying, plus it prevents anyone from falling asleep. Sure, a strong voice can go a long way, but there’s no reason to add that extra oomph with your spirit fingers (seen “Bring It On” lately?). Plus, you will look, sound, and feel 10x more passionate and confident.

DON’T: Be stiff. If all you do is look straight ahead and recite, you’re going to end up talking to a bunch of snoring faces. Take a few steps here and there, move your hands, and tilt your head from one side to another to make sure you’re putting equal amounts of attention on the whole audience. Act like you’re talking in a conversation with another person, not a wall. Don’t be afraid to move. Your audience will thank you for not being just another robot.

4) DO: Take things lightly, smile, and crack a joke. When I went to speak in front of those literature classes, I decided that I just wanted to get it over with and didn’t spend that much time preparing apart from the main ideas I wanted to get across. For once, I wasn’t freaking out and I didn’t get nervous and I didn’t spazz out, simply because I didn’t want to spend all that time and energy worrying about talking in front of some college kids. And it actually made the whole thing go a lot smoother. I made a few sarcastic jokes and–*yay*–my peers chuckled, grinned, nodded. Heck, they responded the way I wanted to! I was funny! And that’s when I realized this whole public-speaking thing isn’t that big of a deal after all. :)

*This post was inspired by Search for Hope.

9 responses to “30-Day Challenge 3: Public Speaking 101”

  1. rosaria says:

    What a talented person you are, already stretching beyond your current studies.
    I like your hints on public speaking.
    It does get easier with time and practice.

  2. Talli Roland says:

    Public speaking can be brutal, I know. These are great tips!

  3. Lydia K says:

    Great points. I need them–I really don’t like public speaking!

  4. Hi TRA *waves* Love the avatars :)

    I used to have a terrible time public speaking. Am much better now, though would still rather not do it!



  5. you rock! it took me a long time to get comfortable with public speaking, and it still kinda irks me to this day. but you have lovely tips–and cool avatar friends! :)

  6. Becca. says:

    agreed! who doesn’t love a good pair of gladiator sandals!

    thankyou for the comment on my blog :)

  7. Theonlyfashionprincess says:

    Great post!

    ps I wanna say that I really appreciate your comments on my blog. thanks for that! have a nice weekend.

  8. WritingNut says:

    These are amazing tips, thank you! I gesture A LOT with my hands when I’m speaking, but you’re so right… it really helps to calm you down… :)

  9. Nahno McLein says:

    Great advice for speaking up in front of people.

    I would just amend the fact that you should maybe take lots of notes, especially for practice, even if you then later change it. at least I always know what I’m supposed to say and it’s easier to find a way back.
    Nahno ∗ McLein

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