How to Prepare for Public Speaking

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Many people experience fear and anxiety when they are faced with public speaking. Whether you have a class presentation or you are preparing a speech for student body elections, the tips below will help you prepare for public speaking in any scenario.

Get Familiar With Your Material

The first thing to do when you are preparing for public speaking is gain a thorough understanding of the material you’ll be presenting. Do your research, make notes, find multiple high-quality sources. You will feel more prepared and confident about speaking when you are knowledgeable about the topic.

Know the Parameters of Your Presentation

If you’re working on a presentation for class, make sure you understand the assignment requirements. Oftentimes, the presentation parameters will be part of your grade. Some things to make sure you know:

  • Is there a minimum time requirement you must speak for?
  • Are you supposed to create a slideshow to accompany your presentation?
  • Are you allowed to use props to help you while presenting? (i.e. notecards or an outline)
  • Will there be a question and answer section following your presentation?

Create an Outline of Important Talking Points

Almost like you would when starting an essay, create an outline of what you will talk about. For example, if your presentation is about a historical figure like Abraham Lincoln, you might want to start with a brief biography. Describe where and when he grew up, how he became president, then his notable accomplishments as president.

Rehearse What You Are Going to Say

Rehearsal is essential to presenting well. Create a script if you must. Practice your presentation aloud by yourself and in front of other people, like family members, friends, or a roommate. They can offer feedback and tell you if they notice areas for improvement. Rehearsal will also help you find out if your presentation is too long or too short.

Speak Slowly, Clearly, and Pause

When people are nervous, they have a tendency to speak quickly, so practice speaking slower, even if it feels a bit unnatural. Make sure you enunciate and project your voice. You don’t want to be yelling, but you also don’t want to mumble. Being mindful of slowing down and projecting can help you so that you don’t automatically speed through your presentation. Take moments for natural pauses within your presentation, like between slides. This will help with your pacing and allow you moments to breathe, which can help ease anxiety.

Schedule a session with one of our expert tutors to help brainstorm and rehearse your speech!