Public Speaking Tips For Students

If you speak to a wide cross-section of people a majority of them will rate public speaking as the area that causes them the greatest anxiety. Some will even say that they would rather die than make a public presentation. It is unlikely that they really mean that but it shows the extent of this fear.

Common Reasons for Being Afraid of Public Speaking

Commonly expressed reasons are:

  1. Forgetting what you are going to say
  2. The audience won't take you seriously
  3. Saying the wrong thing and causing offense or embarrassment
  4. Not knowing the answers to questions that may be asked
  5. Worried that you will ramble on too long or finish too soon

Although these are genuinely expressed fears they are perhaps not the real reasons as to why people should be afraid of public speaking. Yes, it is important to realize that there is a lot to lose when it comes to public speaking. Public speaking exposes you, whoever the audience.

People will talk about your performance and make comparisons with other speeches and speakers. The quality of your performance is important so there is every reason to be afraid. However, all is not lost, as we shall see.

The Real Reasons To be Afraid and the Antidotes

Lack of skill is a genuine reason for being afraid. After all, audiences expect that public speakers have the skill to do a good job. If you feel you don't have the skill to be a good public speaker then you need to get some training. One can only lament the lack of attention given to this area in formal education facilities. However, there are groups in the community that can offer this training and experience.

Toastmasters International is a great resource for any aspiring speaker. Lack of a proper structured outline of what one is going to say is certainly a genuine cause for anxiety, but one that is easily overcome by taking the time to prepare ordered key points of your speech.

Confusion between writing and speaking is another reason to be afraid. Writing is a much more formal activity and if you try to speak as you write the result is boring and monotonous. Speaking allows you to be more relaxed and is a much more forgiving medium.

Having a "just want to survive" approach is another reason to be afraid. A positive approach is crucial, otherwise you will find yourself making errors and failing to communicate effectively.

Lack of commitment is another reason for fear. This ties in with the first point concerning skill. Many people only give the occasional speech and can probably get help from a book. However, regular presenters at work or in the wider community need to be committed to improvement.

Finally, be afraid if you don't know how to handle "freezing". It does happen, even to experienced presenters, and the trick is knowing how to deal with it and turn it to your advantage. The skillful use of a pause can work wonders and suddenly the material comes rushing back.

You have undoubtedly listened to great speakers with their powerful use of words and their ability to draw pictures and sway an audience. However, that is not beyond you. With training and paying attention to proper preparation, having a positive approach and being committed to success, you too can captivate your audience.

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Public Speaking Tips For Students

Advice for students who want to learn how to improve their public speaking skills and abilities to do well in school and in business.

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January 3, 2020
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