5 Ways to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills (For Teachers and Students)

February 21, 2017

Did you know that speech anxiety is one of the most common fears in America (coming in just under spiders and heights)? Last year 74% of Americans said they had a fear of public speaking and would be uncomfortable just standing in front of a crowd. If the thought of public speaking has you running towards the exit, here are a few tips that could reduce your nerves and help improve your next presentation.

Take advantage of the slides.

There’s no reason to be cramming an hour long presentation onto 5 slides. Slides are free so use them to your advantage! Not all of them need a heading, bullet points, and images. Instead, each slide should focus on one main point. You’ll have more luck keeping your audience’s attention if you keep your text and images large and interesting.

Pictures trump text.

Your slides should improve your presentation, not be the presentation, so you want to include as few sentences and statistics as possible. Images, infographics, and even funny gifs are great ways to keep your audience engaged and focused on your message.

Loosen up.

Body language is just as important as your words. Use your hands when you’re talking and always keep eye contact. You also don’t want to come off looking like a statue, so walk around the stage or front of the classroom when it’s appropriate. Body movement helps combat presentation anxiety because it mimics a natural conversation.

Change up your tone and pitch.

Even if you are presenting on a very serious or somber topic, you don’t want to speak in a monotone. Changing the pitch and speed of your voice will add more emphasis and drama to certain points you want to stress.

Practice in front of an audience.

You can run through your presentation alone in your room as many times as possible, but you never really know how you’ll react until you get in front of an audience. Grab a few friends or family members and ask them to watch you present. At the end, ask for comments and suggestions, then revise your presentation.

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