Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, is one of the world’s most common phobias. Estimates suggest that up to 73% of people get nervous about talking on stage.
Today’s students have it even harder than the rest—Zoom presentations can be far more nerve-wracking than in-person speeches. Unfortunately, this still doesn’t excuse you from speech class. So aside from the typical presentation tips of “practice makes perfect” and “know your audience”, what else can you do to improve your speech assignments?
For starters, you can keep reading this guide to learn five effective public speaking tips for students of all ages.
- Stand Your Ground
Nothing gives away anxiety to an audience like fidgeting and shuffling your feet. If you want to look calm and confident, practice standing still in a neutral position while you speak. You can use your hands to gesture, but avoid pacing the stage, twirling your hair, or playing with your notes.
- Take Time to Breathe
When you’re giving a public speaking presentation, do you find yourself saying “um” or “uhh” as you grasp for the next words? These sounds are known as vocal pauses, and they’re one of the worst (and most common) public speaking habits.
Instead of letting those sounds slip out, practice taking a quiet breath in and out. It’s far less awkward for your audience to hear a second of silence as you collect your thoughts than to hear a 30-minute speech peppered with vocal pauses.
- Project and Enunciate
Nervousness makes most of us speak faster, quieter, and less precisely—the opposite of what you need when giving a presentation.
That’s why it’s so important to focus on regulating your speaking patterns when you’re anxious. When you practice your speech, record it and play it back until you hear yourself enunciating each word, projecting loudly, and speaking at a normal pace. Mastering your voice takes a lot of hard work, but the results are worth it.
- Find Ways to Cope With Anxiety
Many people with public speaking anxiety also struggle with nerves and worry in other parts of their lives. If you can find subtle ways to cope with anxiety attacks when they strike off-stage, it will be much easier to keep yourself collected in front of an audience.
If you don’t already have a therapist, meet with your school counselor to talk about anxiety management techniques. They can help you come up with coping strategies that work in everyday life and are also discreet enough to use on stage.
- Let Yourself Make Mistakes
One of the many reasons people are so scared of public speaking is that they’re chasing after perfection. In reality, there’s no such thing as the perfect speech. Even skilled presenters will let a rogue vocal pause slip through, mispronounce a word, or lose their train of thought now and again.
If you get rid of the idea that you have to be perfect and allow yourself to make a few mistakes, your audience will be happy to roll with the punches. Remember, each presentation you give is a new opportunity to get better at public speaking.
Use These Public Speaking Tips for Students at Your Next Presentation
You don’t have to look forward to giving speeches in class, but using these public speaking tips for students should help you dread the occasion less. With enough practice, even the shyest of people can develop a talent for presenting information to others.
For more ways to excel inside and outside the classroom, be sure to browse through the other articles on our site.