How to Conquer Public Speaking in 4 Easy Steps

I’m an intern with Aureus Medical (C&A’s healthcare staffing affiliate) and recently won a “prize” of presenting at the very large Allied Health Huddle. My inner communication scholar came out in this instance and I was able to speak publicly about my division and all of our recent achievements. That is why I decided to write this particular blog, because it is so relevant to myself, as well as many others in their work life.

1. Practice! Practice! Practice!

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of practicing your speech before doing it in front of any size crowd. We have all watched the shows where the cool guy or girl goes to the front of the room and belts out an amazing speech after having zero practice, only to come out on the other end with a standing ovation. Frankly, this just isn’t the case for the majority of people and this sets the wrong impression. Practice makes perfect. This common phrase rings true especially when public speaking. The more you practice, the more comfortable you become with your own words and what you’re speaking about, as well as being able to anticipate what is coming next. Not relying solely on your presentation aid will show how much you know about the given topic, and show that you are prepared.

2. Look at Yourself in the Mirror

Practice that speech in the mirror! You will quickly notice what it is that you need to work on, as you are your own worst critic. That being said, be kind to yourself, and practice making eye contact with yourself while over using the hand and arm gestures. While it may seem ridiculous in the moment to be tossing your arms around while making that steady eye contact with yourself, when you are in front of a crowd, your body will naturally make smaller gestures and movements due to the nature of your nervousness. These smaller movements will show that crowd that you are comfortable with what you are presenting on, and that you are a confident speaker. Now if you really want to step outside of your comfort zone, video tape your presentation and watch it!

3. Stick to Those Notecards

Limiting yourself to using only a few notecards will force you to become more reliant on yourself and your knowledge of the topic. Be sure to use key words only on your notecards to help you maintain eye contact with the crowd while looking casual and helping you to stay on track.

When I am presenting in front of a crowd of any size, there is always a small amount of jitters that I just cannot seem to shake. These jitters are not as noticeable when using notecards, like a large piece of paper might be.

4. You are Not Alone!

Remember that you are certainly not the only person who feels nervous to speak in front of a crowd. Even professional speakers still get nervous regardless of the crowd size. You know your topic better than anyone, and generally you will be the only one to know if things do not go quite the way you planned. When you accept that you are not the only person who feels this way, you will be more comfortable knowing that you are speaking in front of an audience who is understanding and open to what you are sharing.

With these tips, you can become a more confident speaker, and you will be able to blow away your audience, showing them your confidence and poise!

What are some other tips that you find to be helpful when presenting to a group?

Sara Struble will be a senior at Nebraska Wesleyan University and will be graduating in May 2018 with a degree in Communication Studies. In her free time, she enjoys playing intramural sports through school, hosting The Pack radio show every Sunday, and participating in Greek Life activities. This summer has been full of family and traveling with friends before school starts back up in August.

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