More than spiders and monsters in the closet, many people are afraid of speaking in public.
Who wouldn’t be? Standing in front of a sea of people with one’s voice the only resounding sound heard is probably the most terrifying thing, not to mention the thoughts and critiques in the audience’s heads.
Yet there is no denying how inevitable public speaking is. Some schools have required courses in speech. But even in schools that don’t, there are still courses that integrate presentations and reports in various class activities.
However, there is no need to fret. Here is a list of tips on public speaking and reporting. After going through each tip, every turtle-hiding-in-his-shell speaker will surely become public speaking’s Picasso.
1. Research and practice. The word “research,” when broken down, is basically “re,” which means doing something again, and “search,” which pretty much means to find. So, when we say research, you will have to find everything your report would need, not just once, but over and over again. That way, you will be certain that you did not leave any stone unturned.
Once you’ve structured your report, you would then have to practice and do your own dry run. Talk to yourself in front of a mirror, if that works for you. No one would mind. Just never ever forget this: take cramming out of your vocabulary.
2. Think outside the box. Be creative. Do not limit yourself within the walls of the classic reports you have been used to. Think of ways that will enhance your report, catch your audience’s attention and impart the information you need to get across.
3. Be wary of your report’s content—not too little, not too much. Much like a cup of coffee with just the right amount of bitterness and sweetness, every oral report must not be filled with too much or too little information. At the end of your report, your audience will be one of two things—lost in the jungle with zero information from your report, or dozing off on cloud nine, overflowing with information. There’s no need to beat around the bush. Go straight to the point.
4. Capture your audience’s eyes and ears. While speaking in public, it is important to make eye contact with people seated in all parts of the room—even those hidden in the back. This shows people your interest and commitment in communicating with them. Apart from that, it also wouldn’t hurt to walk around a bit and make slight gestures.
5. There’s no need to rush. Take it slow. Don’t speak as if someone is chasing you. You will end up eating your words and not getting your message across. Yet in the same way, don’t speak too slow that your audience will feel like they are listening to a lullaby. The right speed of speaking will come to you as you breathe and settle in.
6. Speak up; don’t read up. If you have a set of note cards in your hands, glance at it occasionally. Do not bury your face in it and read your entire speech right off it. Capturing the text word for word is not as important as pointing out the main points in a relaxed and confident manner.
7. Make use of the equipment. When there is equipment ready to be used, use it. Audiovisual aids—such as PowerPoints, handouts, music from a set of speakers and the like—can help highlight important points from your report. Consequently, these can engage your audience and maintain their attention.
8. Dress to impress. You do not need to wear a suit or a long gown. But you must look presentable and decent—someone whom people would listen to and actually believe in.
9. Own your spotlight (or in this case, your classroom’s fluorescent light). Before standing up and putting yourself in front of your audience, tell yourself that, for the next few minutes, you will not hold back in showing them not only what you’ve prepared for several sleepless nights, but also your innate strengths and capabilities. Stand straight. Put your chin up. Relax. Be confident. Start strong and finish strong.
10. Be yourself. Despite the fact that you are reporting in front of a crowd with every pair of eyes and ears geared in your direction, you are still you. Just be yourself. Don’t worry, everything else will follow.