Public speaking is a valuable skill to have in college studies as well as in the professional world. However, college students may suffer from glossophobia, or fear of public speaking. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, "Public speaking is said to be the biggest fear reported by many American adults, topping flying, financial ruin, sickness, and even death." Performance anxiety during a presentation can also directly affect a student's grades, which can bring down his overall grade point average. Preparation and coping skills play a huge part in overcoming the fear of giving presentations in college.
Research your topic thoroughly, giving yourself enough time to understand the subject before you begin to outline your presentation. To fully comprehend what you are researching, read the text fully and then read it again at a slower pace. Take notes in the margin to refer to as you prepare your lecture.
Write a rough draft of your presentation from your notes. When it is complete, organize it into sections, starting with an introduction and ending with a conclusion. Keep in mind that you will be presenting to students of all learning levels, so write your speech using language that is familiar to those in the classroom setting.
Create literature to hand out to your classmates. Having a visual aid will give your presentation a polished look, as well as show your professor your dedication to your research. Use bullet points that outline your topic, and include key facts and vocabulary that you will be covering. Make sure you check your work before you send it off to the printer.
Practice in front of friends and family. Winging it the day of your presentation can heighten your anxiety, as well as increase your chances of making a mistake while speaking. Also, use this opportunity to fix any grammatical anomalies or errors. Sometimes a sentence may look good on paper but sound awkward when spoken. Ask your mock audience questions such as "Did I speak too fast?"; "How was my intonation?" and "Is there anything I should add to make my performance better?"
Dress to impress on the big day. Making yourself look presentable will increase your self-esteem as well as impress your professor and fellow students. Also, take the time to eat a healthy breakfast and bring a bottle of water with you to class.
Arrive 20 minutes early to prepare for your presentation. Rushing will leave you feeling frazzled and anxious. Take this time to organize your thoughts and prepare your visual aids. Stand off to the side and do some stretches: Roll your head in circles and reach over your head and touch your toes. Breathe deeply until your nerves are calm and you are ready to begin.
Speak slowly and smile at your audience. If the area allows it, circle the room and don't be thrown off if someone asks a question. Feel free to look at the literature you prepared, but do not read off of the paper. Above all, remember to be yourself. Your classmates want to hear what you have to say about your topic.
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- If classroom technology allows it, PowerPoint presentations are an effective way to enrich a presentation. Other visual aids include videos, slideshows and transparencies.
- If your anxiety over public speaking becomes a serious issue, speak to a doctor immediately.
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