Even if you dread the thought of public speaking, you can do well in your speech class if you carefully prepare and practice instead of procrastinating. Work hard on the main parts of a speech, which include a captivating introduction, factual content and dynamic delivery of your material. Engage your audience by using effective speaking techniques, such as humor or inspirational quotes.
Harness Nervous Energy
Some of the world’s greatest orators experience jitters before addressing an audience. Nervousness is normal and to be expected. Toastmasters International, a worldwide public speaking club, suggests channeling nervous energy into excitement and enthusiasm. Other strategies that will help you relax and connect with the audience include telling personal stories to highlight your points and smiling. You will likely find that giving speeches gets a little easier each time as you get used to it and gain self-confidence.
Fulfill the Purpose
To pass a speech class, you must demonstrate that you can give different types of speeches, such as persuasive speeches, informative speeches and special occasion speeches. Your key points and supporting data must suit the purpose of your assignment. For example, the Notre Dame University Writing Center suggests that if you’re preparing a persuasive speech, you should include intriguing facts, statistics from credible sources and true stories to support your viewpoint. If you’re giving an informative speech that explains an event, object, concept or process, choose a topic that personally interests you and share first-hand experience to hold the attention of your audience.
Listen and Participate
Passing a high school or college level speech class requires an ability to listen as well as speak. Pay attention when classmates are delivering their speeches and offer constructive feedback. Otherwise, you may lose points if your instructor grades on participation. You may also improve your grade by frequently raising your hand and asking intelligent questions about public speaking, such as how to select a topic, transition between ideas and write a captivating introduction.
Rehearsal and Delivery
Practice is key to delivering a polished speech. You may find it useful to rehearse your facial expressions and gestures in front of the mirror. Consider asking friends or family to listen and point out grammar errors or mispronounced words. Run through your speech until you’re fluent, self-assured and familiar with your material. If you’re allowed to use presentational aids, rely on them as little as possible. Frequently look at your audience instead of reading from cue cards or slides. Also, refrain from swearing, chewing gum or using slang when delivering your speech.
- Toastmasters International: 10 Tips for Public Speaking
- New York University Steinhardt: Department of Media Culture, and Communication
- Plattsburgh State University of New York: Easing the Pain of Public Speaking -- A Step by Step Guide
- Carthage College: Public Speaking Tips
- University of Notre Dame Writing Center: Types of Speeches
- Eyecandy Images/Eyecandy Images/Getty Images