Public speaking is listed as one of the greatest fears for most humans, right next to extreme heights and spiders. It’s not often that most of us are asked to share our thoughts or ideas with a large group of people, so when we do, it always feels very daunting. If you want to calm your nerves before your next big speech, here are 5 helpful public speaking tips for college students.
1. Write and Revise Well Ahead of Time
If you have to make a public speech, then you’re going to want to feel confident that it is well written, and you’re going to want to feel like it’s the best it can be. Not only that, but you want to make sure that you leave enough time to practice your speech dozens of times so that you have as much of it memorized as possible. You may be able to use index cards, but you want to keep eye contact throughout your presentation.
2. Practice in Front of a Small Audience
Once you feel like you’ve memorized the speech more or less, you want to practice reading it to a small audience. It could even be your roommate and one other friend. No matter who it is, ask them if they can give you any pointers on pacing, posture or tone, and try and see if they will let you read it multiple times. That way you can practice taking their feedback and applying it to your performance.
3. Control Your Breathing
It doesn’t matter if you go to Columbia University or University of Maryland, if you want to make a strong speech then you’re going to have to know how to breathe through your nervous. Concentrating on your breath will not only calm your nerves so that you don’t start mumbling or get dry mouth, but it will also be your guide for pacing. Pay attention to how slowly you will need to be breathing in order to keep your cool, and check in with the parts of the speech that require moments of pause and deeper breath.
4. Mark Your Cards in Accordance with Pacing
Once you know exactly where you will need to pause and how far you can speak without needing to look down, you need to mark your note cards accordingly. You can change the color of your writing or highlighting, draw lines, or anything else that works for you. Just be sure to always look down at these markers to keep yourself on the right pace, even if you happen to remember what comes next without the use of the card. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of your next section and then break up the pace of your speech.
5. Use the Bathroom Beforehand
Once all is said and done, you want to be sure that you don’t have any bodily distractions like needing to use the bathroom before you have your big moment. You want to limit the number of things that could possibly occupy your mind in every way possible. Public speaking requires acute focus, and not using the bathroom beforehand is definitely a rookie mistake.