HOW TO: Public Speaking and Presentations

Whatever career path you are considering be it in technology, engineering, law, business, or medicine it is incredibly important to have substantial skills in both public speaking and presentation. In public speaking scenarios, women are often victims of harsh double-standards; many female speakers face greater criticism than their male counterparts for their delivery style or appearance. Remembering a few easy tips for public speaking can make a world of difference in ensuring the success of your school or work presentations.

Here are a few important things to keep in mind while presenting:

1. Be Conscious of Your Body Language

Your body language can either emphasize or distract from your main message. Making strong eye contact and using appropriate, but minimal, hand gestures are simple ways to utilize body language without going over the top. Avoid constantly fluttering or wringing your hands, shifting on your feet, or rapidly darting your eyes around the room. It’s essential that you appear calm and grounded throughout the course of your presentation

2. Use an Animated (and Varied) Voice

How you deliver a speech or presentation can powerfully impact how your audience perceives the material. When speaking vary your volume, pitch, tone, or pace appropriately. Variety in speech can help keep your audience interested and make you seem more persuasive.

3. Grab Attention from the Start and Close Memorably

Psychologists say that people are predisposed to remember what comes at the beginning and end of a speech. Thus, it’s essential that you begin a presentation in such a way that immediately catches the attention of your audience (personal anecdote, interesting statistic, etc.). Similarly, don’t let your speech just fizzle out at the end. Come up with an ending that will stick in the memory of your audience while re-emphasizing your most important points.

4. Turn Nervousness into Excitement

Feeling nervous before a major speech or presentation is natural, the trick is effectively redirecting that nervous energy into more productive forms. Changing your mental set and viewing your bodily signs of nervousness (pounding heart, sweaty hands, etc.) as signs of excitement instead can help boost your confidence while you speak.

5. Know and Connect with Your Audience

Having a deep understanding of your audience before walking into a presentation can be a game changer. Do your research in advance and prepare your speech/presentation based on the audience you will be presenting to. The words you use and the amount of detail included in your speech will vary greatly depending on who your audience is.

I hope some of these tips can help guide your future presentations! Remember that preparation is so important so always practice in advance.

Good luck!

Polly Moser

Swib University