Speeches are a dreaded assignment for many students, in college or not. Speaking in front of peers can be terrifying, but is an absolutely necessary skill to have. For some, giving speeches is a breeze while others believe it is the worst thing on the planet. After nearly two-and-a-half years of college speeches, I have learned a few tricks that I believe can help incoming freshmen.
Speak with confidence and authority: This is by far the most important thing. Professors and teachers constantly stress not to say uh, um, or like. Saying any of these things indicates you are nervous and does not sound very appealing when giving a speech.
Plant your feet to the ground about shoulder length apart and DO NOT SWAY. Do not fiddle with your hands because that always makes you appear nervous. Speak with a slightly louder voice than you normally would speak and limit your movements when in front of the class. It is easier said than done, but when you have your stance and smoothly flowing speech, you’ll be golden.
Think of it this way, no one is really listening: It may sound bad, but it is honestly true. Many students get nervous that they will sound stupid or will make a mistake, but in all honesty no one is listening. Pretty much everyone in the class is as nervous as you, and the only thing they are concerned with is their own speech.
Many students are reading their speech while you are giving yours, and if they happen to look at you, they are more than likely daydreaming. Have confidence, and remember that it’s basically just you in the room.
Try and go first: Going first gets it out of the way and also allows you to make mistakes. The satisfaction of being done and watching everyone else try and fumble through their speech is the best. Attempt to volunteer first and get it done.
Plus, since you go first, you do not have anyone to follow. Some people give these unbelievable speeches that are impossible to follow. Going first will prevent this and possibly cut you some slack from the professor. It is also slanted in your favor because if you happen to give an amazing speech, you set the tone for the entire class.
Keep eye contact as much as possible: The most popular mistake made by students is not making eye contact. You don’t have to maintain eye contact with the class at all times, but staying away from looking down at you note cards makes you look proficient. A lot of students read straight from their paper/note card, which seriously hurts their grade.
Others read and occasionally look up. Go over your speech 10 times before the day you have to give it, and your brain will automatically be able to finish some of the sentences when you actually give it. Believe it or not, it works. And it gives you just enough eye time to trick the professor into thinking you are coming up with things off an outline, not an actual paper.
Dress appropriately: This is simple. Men should wear some khakis and a button-down shirt; ladies should go for some type of dress or nicer clothes. Dress to impress.
There you have it. Some basic tips to giving a “better” speech. Again, I would just like to say that all of my college tips are more of shortcuts than actual tips. If you actually invest time and effort into your speech, you won’t have to follow any of these tips and can do your own thing. Thanks for reading everyone and happy holidays!
Also, check out this video I made for the communications and marketing department!
How to Meet People at Hanover (Preview to my next blog?)