Public Speaking Tips From a Communication Student

As of 2018, Business Insider and TopResume listed communication as one of the most important skills that employers look for in a resume. What some people don’t know is that public speaking is one of the top fears that a lot of people have in this world. Public speaking can come in many forms, such as school and business presentations, speaking at a convention, or even at social events like weddings.

Whatever the case may be, everybody has done public speaking at least once in their lives but not everybody feels comfortable speaking in front of an audience. From my experiences of being a communication student, I want to share seven helpful tips for anyone who wants to improve their public speaking skills.

Tip #1: Practice Public Speaking Often

You have to practice often to improve. Even though this may sound cliché, I think some people overlook this tip because they don’t see fast results. It’s important to realize that everybody improves at their own pace and time.

As long as you’re talking in front of someone every single day or week, you are going to be on the right track to become a better public speaker. In my opinion, don’t worry about the time it takes you to improve; instead, focus more on your efforts when you present something in front of someone.

Tip #2: Speak to Strangers

It’s helpful to talk to strangers whenever you have the opportunity. Sometimes you are going to talk in front of a group of people that you do not know personally or that you’ve never seen before in your life. In some situations, you might feel judged by some people when you present your speech. I personally believe that this exercise is perfect for anyone who wants to break the barrier of awkwardness and judgment.

When you talk to a stranger it is free, helpful, and doesn’t take a lot of time to say a few words to them. You can extend the conversation as long as you want it to be or you can say a simple “hi” to someone. Personally, I’ve known some people who utilized this tip before and it took them months before they could naturally start a conversation with a stranger. Even though their results did not come fast, they believe that talking to a lot of strangers played a huge role in how they became better communicators and public speakers.

Tip #3: Keep an Open Mind to Feedback and Constructive Criticism

Don’t be afraid to receive some feedback because that is key to improving your public speaking skills. Most of the time people who critique your speech are not there to attack you as a person or as a speaker; instead, their main goal is to see you improve on your next speech. Although nobody wants to hear constructive criticism about their speech or presentation, it is important to receive feedback because that is a critical factor in continued growth.

In my opinion, you’ll never know what your strengths or weaknesses are if you don’t receive feedback. From my personal experiences, I’ve had professors and classmates critique me in front of the class. Yes, I was a little bit uncomfortable, but ultimately, I did appreciate the feedback that everybody gave me because they saw something about my speech that I did not see. Therefore, I recommend that you accept feedback with an open mind. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your critics to be honest with you if they noticed any flaws from your speech.

Tip #4: Videotape and Review Your Speeches

I recommend recording yourself when you present your speech. By reviewing a video of your speech, you can catch your mistakes, listen to the volume of your voice, and analyze your body movements. This is also a good exercise for people who don’t have a chance to talk in front of an audience. You can be your own critic by reviewing your own videos. The more honest you are with yourself, the better it will be for you as a speaker.  

From my personal experiences, I had to do this exercise for one of my communication classes. I noticed in a matter of months that my skills improved significantly. After I finished this particular class, I felt more confident as a speaker and was able to catch my mistakes quickly.

Tip #5: Take Time to Plan and Organize Your Speeches

It’s important to focus on structure when you write your speech. Luckily, there are many ways to organize a speech so you don’t have to feel pressured to utilize one organizational method. My best advice is to choose a method that works for your topic or for your speech theme.

Keep in mind that just because one organizational style worked for a ceremonial speech, that doesn’t mean the same one is going to work for a persuasive speech. Your goal at the end of a speech is to make sure that your message was clear to your audience. You’re not going to have a clear message if your thoughts are scattered and if your speech is disorganized.

Tip #6: Memorize Your Speech—Practice, Practice, Practice

I highly encourage you to put in quality time and effort to practice your speech so you do not have to rely on your notecards. I want to emphasize that you do not want to memorize your speech word-for-word. You are putting a lot of pressure on yourself if you try to memorize every word that you wrote for your speech. In general, you don’t want to sound robotic and you don’t want to sound like you’re reading off a script. Your goal as a speaker is to sound professional, conversational, and natural.  

From my experiences, my communication professors have encouraged their students to utilize notecards as a guide or as a brief outline of what they want to cover in their speech. It is also equally important to maintain eye contact with your audiences while you present your speech. You want to maintain good eye contact because your audience will feel disengaged if you only look at your notecards. Therefore, I encourage you to put quality time into practicing your speech because that will help you in the long run.

Tip #7: Remain Confident and Believe in Yourself

My last tip is to have more confidence in yourself as a speaker. Robin Sharma, a Canadian writer, leadership expert, and motivational speaker once said, “No one will believe in you until you believe in you.” There is not an easy way to explain how someone can gain confidence because every individual is unique in their own way.

For example, I’ve met some communication students who dress professionally for every single speech because they feel confident when they look their best. I’ve known some students who stretch or go for a walk before their presentation. All in all, you have to figure out what works for you. As cheesy as this may sound, you’re going to have to do some soul searching because only you know what makes you feel confident. It is also good to keep in mind that it may take weeks, months, or possibly years until you find the right method that works for you. Whatever the case may be, take your time to understand yourself as a person and as a speaker.



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Hi! My name is Jennifer. I'm currently a senior at SDSU and my major is communication. My professional goal is to work in the communication and digital publication industry.

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Public Speaking Tips From a Communication Student

As of 2018, Business Insider and TopResume listed communication as one of the most important skills that employers look for in a resume. What some people don’t know is that public speaking is one of the top fears that a lot of people have in this world. Public speaking can come in many forms, such as school and business presentations, speaking at a convention, or even at social events like weddings.

Whatever the case may be, everybody has done public speaking at least once in their lives but not everybody feels comfortable speaking in front of an audience. From my experiences of being a communication student, I want to share seven helpful tips for anyone who wants to improve their public speaking skills.

Tip #1: Practice Public Speaking Often

You have to practice often to improve. Even though this may sound cliché, I think some people overlook this tip because they don’t see fast results. It’s important to realize that everybody improves at their own pace and time.

As long as you’re talking in front of someone every single day or week, you are going to be on the right track to become a better public speaker. In my opinion, don’t worry about the time it takes you to improve; instead, focus more on your efforts when you present something in front of someone.

Tip #2: Speak to Strangers

It’s helpful to talk to strangers whenever you have the opportunity. Sometimes you are going to talk in front of a group of people that you do not know personally or that you’ve never seen before in your life. In some situations, you might feel judged by some people when you present your speech. I personally believe that this exercise is perfect for anyone who wants to break the barrier of awkwardness and judgment.

When you talk to a stranger it is free, helpful, and doesn’t take a lot of time to say a few words to them. You can extend the conversation as long as you want it to be or you can say a simple “hi” to someone. Personally, I’ve known some people who utilized this tip before and it took them months before they could naturally start a conversation with a stranger. Even though their results did not come fast, they believe that talking to a lot of strangers played a huge role in how they became better communicators and public speakers.

Tip #3: Keep an Open Mind to Feedback and Constructive Criticism

Don’t be afraid to receive some feedback because that is key to improving your public speaking skills. Most of the time people who critique your speech are not there to attack you as a person or as a speaker; instead, their main goal is to see you improve on your next speech. Although nobody wants to hear constructive criticism about their speech or presentation, it is important to receive feedback because that is a critical factor in continued growth.

In my opinion, you’ll never know what your strengths or weaknesses are if you don’t receive feedback. From my personal experiences, I’ve had professors and classmates critique me in front of the class. Yes, I was a little bit uncomfortable, but ultimately, I did appreciate the feedback that everybody gave me because they saw something about my speech that I did not see. Therefore, I recommend that you accept feedback with an open mind. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your critics to be honest with you if they noticed any flaws from your speech.

Tip #4: Videotape and Review Your Speeches

I recommend recording yourself when you present your speech. By reviewing a video of your speech, you can catch your mistakes, listen to the volume of your voice, and analyze your body movements. This is also a good exercise for people who don’t have a chance to talk in front of an audience. You can be your own critic by reviewing your own videos. The more honest you are with yourself, the better it will be for you as a speaker.  

From my personal experiences, I had to do this exercise for one of my communication classes. I noticed in a matter of months that my skills improved significantly. After I finished this particular class, I felt more confident as a speaker and was able to catch my mistakes quickly.

Tip #5: Take Time to Plan and Organize Your Speeches

It’s important to focus on structure when you write your speech. Luckily, there are many ways to organize a speech so you don’t have to feel pressured to utilize one organizational method. My best advice is to choose a method that works for your topic or for your speech theme.

Keep in mind that just because one organizational style worked for a ceremonial speech, that doesn’t mean the same one is going to work for a persuasive speech. Your goal at the end of a speech is to make sure that your message was clear to your audience. You’re not going to have a clear message if your thoughts are scattered and if your speech is disorganized.

Tip #6: Memorize Your Speech—Practice, Practice, Practice

I highly encourage you to put in quality time and effort to practice your speech so you do not have to rely on your notecards. I want to emphasize that you do not want to memorize your speech word-for-word. You are putting a lot of pressure on yourself if you try to memorize every word that you wrote for your speech. In general, you don’t want to sound robotic and you don’t want to sound like you’re reading off a script. Your goal as a speaker is to sound professional, conversational, and natural.  

From my experiences, my communication professors have encouraged their students to utilize notecards as a guide or as a brief outline of what they want to cover in their speech. It is also equally important to maintain eye contact with your audiences while you present your speech. You want to maintain good eye contact because your audience will feel disengaged if you only look at your notecards. Therefore, I encourage you to put quality time into practicing your speech because that will help you in the long run.

Tip #7: Remain Confident and Believe in Yourself

My last tip is to have more confidence in yourself as a speaker. Robin Sharma, a Canadian writer, leadership expert, and motivational speaker once said, “No one will believe in you until you believe in you.” There is not an easy way to explain how someone can gain confidence because every individual is unique in their own way.

For example, I’ve met some communication students who dress professionally for every single speech because they feel confident when they look their best. I’ve known some students who stretch or go for a walk before their presentation. All in all, you have to figure out what works for you. As cheesy as this may sound, you’re going to have to do some soul searching because only you know what makes you feel confident. It is also good to keep in mind that it may take weeks, months, or possibly years until you find the right method that works for you. Whatever the case may be, take your time to understand yourself as a person and as a speaker.



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