Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"You Will Be Presenting This to the Class..."

As a nerdy girl, I sort of liked it when I was able to choose a topic, or do something creative with something we did in class in a project. Of course at the same time my lazy side wasn't so pleased that it meant more work would have to go into this project then reading a fun book or playing The Sims 3. To make matters worse my procrastinator side would always often come out, and I'd dump all the work on myself the night before the project is due. But overall, I did enjoy some projects, unless I completely did not like the given topic. My favorite school projects were the ones where I was able to choose my own topic, and state my opinion on it. I just love to state my opinion, especially on things I feel strongly about. I even liked putting my own spin on a book we read in english, or even looking more into a certain scientific or historical topic. Why am I such a nerd? LOL. After getting over my laziness I was typically able to come up with something I was proud to turn in. But the thing was... no matter how proud I was of the work I did, or how much I wanted to state my opinion to everyone, I'd always get this churning feeling in my stomach whenever we were told that we had to present our project to the class. I got nervous just reading out loud from my seat!! I didn't even really like to even give a brief summary of what I did, let alone a full presentation or speech. 

There were times when I was actually quite exciting to state my opinion to the class. That was... until it was my day to present. I'd always avoid being the first person to present as much as possible, and I'd often try to go at the very last if I can. And I'd always hope that my presentation gets pushed into the next day. That feeling in my stomach would just not stop, my mind would be racing. I'd be so relieved when the bell rang and there was no time for my presentation, even though I knew it would be the next day. I could check over my powerpoint again to make sure I have everything right, and think more about what I want to say. But in all honestly... the biggest relief came once I actually went through with the presentation and got it done. To tell the truth, I don't think that giving my presentation at the VERY end was the best idea. Because that just allowed for the speech anxiety to build up more and more, rather then just getting it done and over with. But I really did not want to be the first person to go either,  and seeing other people do it before me did help to give me a little more confidence. If you can, I recommend  trying to give your speech or presentation somewhere in the middle. This way you can see a few other presentations before your own, but keep the anxiety from building up more and more as the days progress. 

My senior year I decided I really wanted to improve my public speaking skills, knowing that I'd more then likely need to give some kind of presentation later in life, so I took a speech class, and actually did really well in that class. Of course it helped having an awesome teacher for that class who let us have fun with our speeches. He even let us turn a few of them into a performance and add in some humor. Adding a little humor can really help out, as it makes you feel people are laughing with you, and not at you. It also helps to lighten up the mood a lot. However, before throwing in a few laughs you may want to make sure it's okay with your teacher first... and that humor would be appropriate for the topic. You'll also want to avoid overkilling your speech with humor if its meant to be persuasive. Some types of presentations may even call for a small bit of acting or performing. Small changes in tone of voice, facial expressions, and even body language can go a long way. You could even try using fun or funny voices, if its okay with the teacher, but do be careful with this, as some teachers really don't like this. When in doubt.. ask first. Also, if you are shy reading out loud, you could even try using voice changes when reading. Not only does it make it slightly more fun, but it can also get the class more engaged in what your reading. 

Another small thing you can do to improve your confidence for giving a speech is to dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Personally for me, I like to wear more dressy clothes when I give a speech. For me the dressy clothing just makes me feel slightly more prepared, and little more professional. I typically prefer dressier looking clothes as my everyday wear anyways, but it does help to give me a slight boost to my confidence. However, I know this is certainly not the case for everyone. If you are not comfortable wearing dress clothes for a speech, and it isn't specified that you have to, then by all means don't. Wear something that you feel comfortable in, whether that be jeans and a t-shirt, or even sweat pants! I personally prefer to look nice, just because looking nice gives me an instant mood boost. But for some comfort may be a bigger priority. :)

The most important thing when giving a presentation is to BE PREPARED! Look over your visual aids (power points, posters, ect.) and make sure you have all your information correct, and you have it how you want it to look. Create notes or notecards to help you along with your speech in advance and go over them as often as you can, and make sure they are all in order before you give your speech or presentation. It may also help to highlight the most important points in your notes. You'll also want to practice giving the presentation outside of class. You could practice by giving the presentation for friends and family, in the mirror, or even just in front of some teddy bears. As many speeches have a time requirement, you'll also want to practice timing yourself to see if you need to make it longer or shorter by adding or removing information. Don't try to memorize an entire presentation word for word, as trying to do it the exact same way each time will only make you more nervous. 

If you have a cold or your voice is all funny because you are sick the day of your speech, be sure to drink plenty of water before giving your speech (and all the time because water is good for you) to help clear your throat a bit. You may also want to let the class and the teacher know that your voice isn't at its best. That way they'll know why your voice might crack, or why you may need to speak softer. Teachers often look for volume when it comes to speeches, and if they know that you need to speak softer because you are sick they will likely be more understanding of that. 

Giving a speech doesn't have to be as scary as it may seem. Just be prepared, and relax while your giving your speech. Eating a good breakfast may also help the stomach rumbling. Try looking over peoples heads, rather then into their eyes if it helps, but avoid looking down or at the ceiling. Go up their and give it your very best. Even try to have a little fun if you can. Not giving your speech is not an option without a huge hit to your grade. So it's best to just give the presentation. Any grade you get will be better then a zero for not doing it. 

What do you like to do to boost your confidence before a speech/ presentation?

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