While public speaking can be uncomfortable or intimidating, it’s an essential skill, especially in college. Whether you have to speak in front of your class, at an academic conference, or at an important event, it’s always good to speak well. Here’s how:
1. Practice, practice, practice. And practice. Like wine, public speaking can be an acquired taste. In order to get used to the feeling of it, practice as much as you can. For example, if you have to give a presentation, practice in front of your mirror, or friends, or family. It might seem silly, but you’ll be glad you did once you’re not stumbling over your words in front of an actual crowd.
2. Find a pace that works. It’s natural to speed up your speech when you’re in front of an audience, which is why you should always tell yourself to slow down. Think about it: no one wants to listen to someone who’s talking too fast. At best it’s annoying. At worst it’s incomprehensible.
3. Learn from the best. You’re paying all that money to be at school, so take advantage of it. Since you already have to sit through class each day, why not try paying attention to how your professors give their lectures? Some professors are rock stars, and can make even the most boring material come to life, while others are as dull as a broken pencil. Either way, take note of what works and what doesn’t. Then imitate as necessary.
4. Make it a routine. If you want to do something well, then you have to do it every day. That’s how you fine-tune a craft. Practice by raising your hand in class to ask or answer questions. In other words: make use of the opportunity to get up and get talking in front of people.
5. Be honest about what you need to improve. Public speaking doesn’t have to be your thing, but it’s a skill you need. So ask for feedback whenever you have the chance. If you make mistakes during a speech or presentation, don’t sweat it. Just remember those mistakes and fix them next time.