Yup, that's my reaction when I hear the words "public speaking." Public speaking is a required course for my major, so there was no way of getting out of this one. In high school, I'd avoid presentations at all costs. The stress and panic would take over and failing the assignment and receiving a lower grade seemed better than getting up in front of a class and talking. Yeah, it was pretty bad. But, your girl here took public speaking last semester and got an A! Several factors took part in this and I am here to share some tips about surviving a public speaking class or presentation.
- talk to your professor
I was fortunate enough to have had an amazing public speaking professor. She was super welcoming and always made everyone feel comfortable. Communicating with your professor is key in college, especially in a class like this. The syllabus should include your professor's contact information. Use it. Let your professor know how experienced and comfortable you are speaking to an audience. Your professor should understand your situation and hopefully both of you can work something out so that you can overcome any problem you may have with the class or assignments.
- look the part
Sorry to break it to ya, college students, but you've got to get out of those sweatpants and UGGS for this one. To do good, you must look good first. Every time you are going to present a speech, dress presentable and appropriate. Or, you can add a little something to your presentation. For example: when I gave a Frida Kahlo informative speech, I wore a black lace dress and floral printed oxford shoes. Not only was I channeling Frida's style, but I looked and felt comfortable and prepared. This will not only capture your audience, but it'll give you credibility as well. And, your professor will notice. Hey, it might get you some extra credit!
- know your topic, inside out
It happens. You're done with your speech/presentation and the professor asks if anyone has questions. There's always someone, in every class, that will have a question. Be ready. Of course, to give a well rounded speech you need to do your research. That's nothing new here. But always be ready for any questions your audience may have. Clarification may be needed or your audience might want to know more about something that you didn't cover but is related to your topic. Carry "possible questions" note cards with short answers, notes, and statistics written on them to help you get through.
- don't procrastinate
Remember when teachers would say "this isn't something you can put together the night before"? *rolls eyes, sighs* Well, that's true in this case. As soon as you get the syllabus, write in an agenda or calendar when the speech is due and when you'll work on it. It's not as simple as going up in front of the class and talking. First, pick a topic and write an outline. Can you deliver and fulfill the requirements for the assignment? Second, do your research. Print articles, check out books from the library, interviews etc. Next, put together a power point (optional). Nothing too fancy, but its good to have some sort of visuals during your presentation because audiences like having something to look at. And, in my opinion, power points are so fun to put together! Finally, practice, practice, practice!
Keep in mind that some people are more experienced or comfortable when it comes to public speaking and that others can be the complete opposite of that. Avoid comparing yourself to the rest and just do your own thing at your own pace. Don't be afraid to ask your professor or classmates for help or advice if you ever need it. There's only one way to end this... you go, Glen Coco!