Simple & Effective Public Speaking Tips

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Braven Leadership Coach speaking to college students in a gym

As a college student and Braven Fellow, giving presentations isn’t out of the norm—whether it’s for a group project (like Braven’s Capstone Challenge presentation), an organization on campus, or for an internship. Make sure you’re prepared for every type of presentation by following our simple and effective public speaking tips!

 

Outline your speech

Before you begin practicing your speech, you’ll need to answer a few basic questions:

  • What is your topic?
  • What point are you trying to make to your audience?
  • What is the story you want to tell?

Once you have these answers, start outlining your speech. A good order to follow is:

  1. Beginning
    1. Hook
    2. Introduction
    3. Goals
    4. Agenda
  2. Middle
    1. Details
  3. End
    1. Summary
    2. Inspiring takeaway
    3. Thank you

Some people can present on the fly, but it’s always beneficial (and highly recommended) to outline and organize your speech. Effective presenters deliver information in a well-structured format that is easy for the audience to follow. 

Hint: You can find Braven’s structure for organizing a speech in the Braven portal!

 

Know your audience

Make sure your topic is applicable to your audience. Find out their level of knowledge on your topic and what they expect from your speech. By keeping your audience in mind when preparing your presentation, you can tailor your speech and choose a topic that’s relevant and relatable to them. Just like you wouldn’t give a speech about retirement homes to a group of college students, you wouldn’t try to sell someone a product that they have no use for.

 

Practice in different environments

Start practicing your speech in front of a mirror so you can jot down notes and circle areas you want to improve. Next, practice in front of a few close friends. Not sure who to ask? Reach out to your Braven cohort! Ask them to time you so you don’t go over your time limit when delivering your speech and ask for feedback and suggestions on how you can improve.

Next, practice in the actual environment where you’ll be presenting. This may be a classroom, a large lecture hall, or a conference room at your place of work. Wherever it is, learn the space well before your presentation and get comfortable with it. 

Pro tip: record your speech and watch it multiple times; analyze it and focus on areas that need improvement.

 

Practice body language and movement

Don’t underestimate the power of good body language. Maintain good posture and avoid crossing your arms or putting your hands in your pockets. Open yourself up to your audience with hand gestures and movement around the presentation space. Standing behind a podium and reading from your notes can create a barrier between you and your audience. Keep them engaged by commanding the space and crossing the room when transitioning topics. And don’t forget to smile!

8 Elements of Confident Body Language

 

Maintain eye contact

Making eye contact with your audience keeps them engaged and helps you build a connection with them. It’s also a great way to get feedback on your performance — you can read their facial expressions to see if they seem interested. 

 

Be authentic

Don’t try to present an inhibited version of yourself when speaking to your audience. It’s much easier for the audience to relax and connect with you when you’re being yourself. Be real, open, and connect with your audience by building authentic relationships with them.

 

Now you’re ready for the races! Use these tips to prepare for your next speech—whether it be for school or for an internship—and remember to be yourself!