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5 public speaking tips no one ever told me

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5 public speaking tips no one ever told me

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As I look back at all the speeches I have given, I can’t help but think that there were a lot of things no one ever told me. Whenever my friends saw me give a speech, I remember they would tell me that it just came naturally to me, but what they didn’t see was all the work I put in behind the scenes. I was a speaker on the Parkland Varsity Debate team for four years in high school and was captain my junior and senior year. I also gave speeches for the Mock Trial team in high school and was critiqued by professional speakers during competitions. I am by no means the best public speaker, but I do have a lot of experience giving speeches. During one of my Mock Trial competitions, an attorney said in front of the entire court that he would pay me to do his opening statement. In college, I came in 2nd place at Penn State Lehigh Valley’s Sixth Annual Public Speaking Contest. Currently, I am the team leader for the Penn State Lehigh Valley Ethics Bowl team and while I am preparing my speech for the competition, I thought of some tips that could help everyone out, including myself.

  1. You will always be nervous– The sooner you accept this, the better. People will try to teach you all the techniques to get rid of your anxiousness, but just because you aren’t nervous doesn’t mean you are going to give a great speech. I know many people that never get nervous, but that doesn’t mean that they will necessarily be a better speaker. If you are nervous, that just means you care about doing well. During the best speeches I have ever given, I was still nervous because I wanted to do my best. Those butterflies in your stomach are normal and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if you get nervous.
  2. Look everyone in the eye– I think this is how I stood out because I always maintained eye contact with the audience. You can’t make your point if you aren’t looking everyone in the eye and it’s not enough to look up, you have to look at someone. This doesn’t mean you should stare at only one person. Glance and make eye contact with everyone during different points of your speech.
  3. Practice your speech in front of your pets or stuffed animals– This may sound crazy… But it works! Ideally, you would want to practice in front of people, but I had to give so many speeches that my friends got sick and tired of listening to me talk about the Cuban Missile Crisis or the Patriot Act. This also helps if you are too nervous to give your speech in front of an actual person, just practice in your room in front of a stuffed animal or your cat.
  4. Imagine you are telling a story– This is probably the best tip I can give because it completely changes the way you give your speech. With a lot of the topics I had to present, they were really dry so it’s hard to keep yourself interested, let alone the audience. If you format your speech like a story, then it’s easier for you to remember as well. Think of how you tell your friend a story, your voice isn’t monotone. If you’re bored yourself, you can’t expect your audience to be any less bored. Imagine that you are telling your friend the most exciting story and then use that to help you give a speech.
  5. Stop telling yourself that you’ll never be good– I know a lot of people that just think that they will never get better, but with any skill you can improve. I put a lot of effort into preparing before I give a speech and if you put hours of hard work into improving you might not be the best, but you’ll be better. Math doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to put in double the amount of effort as the person next to me, but I can still finish with an A and so can you. You might have to try harder, but you can’t say that you’ll never get better.
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5 public speaking tips no one ever told me