Speaking with Confidence

by Lil Blume, March 25, 2004

Through an interactive workshop, participants explored and practiced public speaking. Summarized below are a few of Lil Blume's suggestions:

Lil's Tips for Public Speakers

Dealing With Fear

  • Shake some of the tension out of your body, before presenting, and take three deep breaths.
  • Give yourself positive messages: My speech is a gift to the audience. I have something valuable to say and they want to hear it.
  • Be organized and practice.

Considering Your Audience

  • Welcome them.
  • Be loud enough.
  • Explain your terms. Put difficult words on overheads.
  • Keep in mind that people learn differently. Some people understand visuals better than others. Some people are hard of hearing.

Expression and Enthusiasm

  • Communicate your interest in the topic. You can make topics more interesting by making them interactive.
  • Communicate interest with sincerity, eye contact, and energy.

Starting Your Speech

  • Begin with a question to get them thinking about your topic.
  • Engage those who have an answer to that question.

Using Posture and Gestures

  • Bring the microphone up to your chin. Do not lean into the mic.
  • Gesture can emphasize your points and show enthusiasm.
  • Stand upright or move purposefully into the audience. Shuffling distracts the audience from your message.

Making Eye Contact

  • Try and look at everyone so they feel included.

Using Audio/Visual

  • Make sure your equipment is working before your presentation.
  • Move to the screen when possible. Standing in front of the overhead projector often blocks the screen.
  • Point to features on your visuals, so that everyone in the audience can follow.

Connect With the Audience

  1. Show respect. How?
    1. Consider the environment.
    2. Make sure they can see and hear you.
    3. Make sure they can see your audio/visual resources.
    4. Minimize external distractions.  For example, close the door if the halls are noisy.
  2. Tell your audience why you are there and why they are there.  Be organized and make your organization obvious.
  3. Greet the audience. Be happy to see them.
  4. Make eye contact.
  5. Learn names when possible.
  6. Interact. For each section of your presentation, ask yourself, "How can I make this more interactive?"

Handling Silences

You've asked a question. No one answers. What can you do?

Think of their silence as a message to you. What might that message be?

  • We are shy and afraid of being embarrassed.
  • The question is too hard. You've lost us.
  • We are angry.  Our silence is a protest.

Some Strategies

If what you are doing isn't working, try something else.

  1. Thank anyone who attempts to speak.  Build on whatever they give you.  This will make answering a safer thing to do.
  2. Target specific students.
  3. Make the question smaller.
  4. Have them work with one or two others to come up with an answer.  Then ask a member of the group to share the group's notes.