Thursday, March 29, 2007

When Speaking In Public: A Short How-To

When one has a public speaking engagement--be it a conference presentation, a class assignment, or anything planned--one should be prepared. Here are some tips from the position of What Not to Do When Speaking in Public.
  • Try to dress up, even if it's just tucking in your shirt. Nobody likes looking at someone who looks like they just got out of bed. Take some pride in yourself--it'll boost your self confidence! And especially if you are a graduate student planning to make academia your career, you need to get into the habit of attiring appropriately for conferences, etc.
  • Actually practice your presentation, unless you've done 1,000 presentations before...then you don't need my advice, and you'll probably do it anyway.
  • When speaking, stand. Don't plop down in a chair--it's hard for people in the back of a room to see you if you sit down. If you need something between you and your audience, make use of the podium.
  • Notes are good and necessary; relying on your notes entirely shows lack of preparation. So prepare!
  • Eye contact helps engage the audience. We are not out to get you. We are your friends and wish to hear what you have to say. By making eye-contact, you ensure that we remain engaged and feel connected to what you are saying. No body wants to be bored, believe me.
  • And finally, do not conclude with a hasty "That's all!" and tromp off. It's not professional, and it shows a lack of care--you simply "had to get it done and over with".
I write these tips because I'm sick of enduring dull, mindless, horribly presented class presentations. I'm not expecting greatness, but for people who are entering (presumably) into the world of academia, class presentations should serve as preparation for entering a job where conferences are expected, as is presenting to peers or simply students (teaching). I'm not the world's greatest public speaker, but I certainly managed to pick up a thing or two through my years in college (and in my required public speaking course), and somehow figured these things out.


Kerry said...

lol, I shall have to remember these valuable pearls in my presentation next week. Dress up...practice presentation beforehand...stand...use notes...make eye contact...don't tromp offstage. One would think these would be obvious, but after twenty-something lectures a week with different presenters each time, I know it is not, for some odd reason. *chuckles* Sometimes it's better to not assume.

Amanda D Allen said...

As a PR girl, I fully support your advice. The only thing that I would add (and of course this may not apply to your class). Speaking is writing. No one can 'wing' a quality speech.
That said, I'll leave you to tackle the differences in writing for reading and writing for speaking. ;)