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Public Speaking: Advice For College Students

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Being in college has required me to do many presentations in front of my classmates. Lately I’ve found them to be easier than ever, and don’t have nearly as much trouble as I once did before. This guide will try and help college students to become better public speakers, as I will share with you what I have learned over the years.

I remember my first PowerPoint presentation I had to do in college. I was nervous as can be, and found myself talking really fast and just wanting to get it done. Many people have trouble when it comes to public speaking. How do some people do it and make it look like it’s nothing? It’s all about practice.

Consistent Practice Is The Key Public Speaking

Ask any professional and they will all tell you it boils down to one simple rule: practice. “The more you do it, the easier it becomes” says Dan Smith of “I have found that if I commit to speaking in front of one audience each week, even if its only ten people, it just gets easier.”

But it is a tough road and there are plenty of tips to help you along the way. If you’re in school and have to pick a topic to present to the class, do it on something you like or enjoy. This makes it so much easier to get up there and talk because it’s something that you like. Of course this is not always the case and sometimes you will be given a topic to talk about.

Practice is the main thing here, and that doesn’t just refer to the more you do it the more comfortable you are, but you have to practice what you want to say before hand. If you do not go over your material and make sure you know what to say, it is going to be a lot more difficult to captivate the audience (and just as important, get a good grade!).

Even reading everything over in your head will help, but also having family members and some extra time to practice in front of them is great. I personally have not practiced in front of my family, but it’s something that could make you more comfortable when the actual presentation comes.

Know Your Material Inside & Out

That brings me to my next point. If you either pick your own topic or one is assigned to you, you absolutely have to know the material, inside and out. “If you completely understand the topic, you can help reduce any “umm’s” and possible pauses to gather yourself if you are not sure where you are supposed to be in the presentation” says John Rogan of “The key to a good presentation is not only knowing your information, but truly believing in what you are talking about so it comes off natural.” Once you have yourself ready (you know the material and have practiced or rehearsed) you are ready for the real thing.

Give Your Presentation First

The best thing to do is to volunteer to go first (if possible). This way you are finished first and even set the bar for other people to go after you. When you get up there, try not to say “I did my thing on this” or “My PowerPoint is about this.” One time I opened with a question for the audience. Try to have a meaningful opening.

Once you get into it and start talking, you need to be confident. You are the teacher and the other students, including the professor who’s watching and grading you, is your audience. Enjoy it. Teaching people is a great feeling, even if you have problems with public speaking. Stay focused and remember what you want to say. If you forget something, try and have another point or idea to make. Also, it’s important that if you’re up there and are really nervous to just take a second and calm down.

Everyone else will have to do the same thing you are doing so if you need to take a few seconds because you messed up saying something, that is completely fine.

3. Tips For Speaking In Front Of A Crowd

  1. Be sure to speak loud and clear so everyone can hear you, and try not to directly read your PowerPoint or other material word for word.
  2. Have some notecards with additional comments on them or things you might forget.
  3. The hardest part is looking at your audience, but this is a must. A trick you can do is instead of looking at each person, is to look at the wall in the back of the room. It will appear that you are looking out to your audience when in fact you are not.

Don’t Worry About Your Voice When Speaking

On another note, I have a pretty deep voice and at times I can sound a little weird. At first I was worried about this, but realized that I have no control over it and I should ignore how I felt about it. Worrying about your voice is trivial, unless you aren’t speaking loud or clear enough. But how your voice sounds should not be a worry at all and can only cause problems if you are thinking about that and not your presentation.

Final Thoughts On Speaking

Of all these tips, there is one that helps the most. Talk with your classmates and even get to know them. Presenting to an audience you are familiar with makes it a lot easier.

In conclusion, practice, practice, practice. The more you do it the better you will be at it and the more comfortable you will be at it. These were simply a few tips from a regular person to help out regular people when they have to do this.

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