Our Number One Fear
December 5, 2013|Professional Preparation
Do you fear speaking in front of an audience? Well, you’re not alone! According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking (or Glossophobia) – number two on the list is death. In my first semester of freshman year I have given five presentations – three from my first year seminar and two from the PLA summer session. I have no problem speaking in public. Maybe it’s due to my Mock Trial background from high school where I spoke in front of a real judge and jury. When I present, I set the tone as if it’s a performance similar to when I’m dancing on stage or treat it like a sports event and calling it “game time”. I try to make every presentation a one to remember because it’s the first and last impression I give to an audience. Public speaking is not easy – it’s very difficult and nerve-wrecking for everyone, even for me. I expect more presentation as I go through my college career. So, for those looking to improve their presentations here are my secrets to a great one!
- No matter how good of a speaker you are, practice is required for everyone. Facing a mirror is the best way to see your body language before the actual presentation. The night before, go over the content for assurance.
- Don’t rush. Poise, meaning, and flow dissipate when you start to talk or act fast. Keep calm and go through the presentation as practiced.
- Include media such as videos, images and music. These will prolong your audience’s attention span.
- Asking questions is a way to retain your audience’s interest. Don’t leave unanswered questions. Incorporate poll clickers in your PowerPoint. It is a creative way for the audience to respond during the presentation.
- Take notes of the people that have gone prior so to avoid their mishaps.
- Pause. Don’t say “umms” or “like” because it sounds informal. Pausing makes you sound smarter and gives your audience time to process information.
- Manage your time accordingly. Allow for extra time in collaborations. Be aware of time constraints.
- If a mistake or an accident occurs, carry onto the next topic. There’s no point in lingering on it, the audience feels your pain so contemplate afterwards.
- A presentation should reverberate to a certain theme. Organize slides in a cohesive matter. Tell a story!
- Quotes and statistics can be used in the start, middle and end of a presentation. Only use an advisable amount in the presentation.
- During an explanation, give examples from three different perspectives so that the audience can resonate to the idea to at least one perspective.
- Memorize (note cards are not enough). When the content of the presentation is memorized, you become more confident. It will allow more interaction with the audience and enhance critical thinking to when a question arises.
- Like you, the audiences are human beings too. They look up to you for being brave and prepared enough to present. Their attention will be upon you (well, most of the time) so give them what they came for!
- Determine which you are more vulnerable presenting to – is it in front of people you know or complete strangers? Figure it out and work on it. I prefer presenting in front of strangers because they don’t know the real me. I could be acting and they wouldn’t even know!
- Know the location of your presentation site beforehand. This would allow you to visualize the presentation, adjust furniture, and set up necessary technology.
There will be many opportunities for college students to give a presentation. Make yours one of a kind!