10 Tips to Succeed in Public Speaking

Published February 16, 2018

By Jeff Fox, Northern Kentucky University

There’s certainly no shortage of teaching challenges in the Public Speaking course. From time management, to student preparedness and everything in between, helping students to succeed in Public Speaking can feel like an unsolved mystery.

As instructors, there are many things we can do to address these course challenges. But after you have checked all the boxes for instructional tips and design, you should ask yourself “Are my students prepared for this course? Do they know what my expectations are? Do they know how to succeed in my class?”

Chances are that your students will try to treat your course like every other course they take. But Public Speaking is a completely different animal than English, Math, and Biology. So don’t assume that they know how to prepare. Instead, give them some tips for how to succeed.

Top 10 Student Tips for Success in Public Speaking

by Jeff Fox, Northern Kentucky University

  1. Choose - Choose your topic early. Timely topic selection allows you the opportunity to work through the speech preparation and organization process in a methodical way. Additionally, it helps prevent added apprehension resulting from procrastination. 
  2. Prepare - Come to class prepared and with your topic in mind. As your instructor teaches the components of speech writing, think in terms of your own speech topic and how you can apply what you learn to your own work. 
  3. Audience - Keep your audience in mind throughout the entire speech preparation process. Remember, it is about them, not you. Organize your speech in such a way that gets your point across in the most efficient manner for your audience. 
  4. Seek - Seek out example speeches and critique them. Learn from other speakers’ mistakes and work to emulate other speakers’ successes. 
  5. Practice - Take advantage of practice opportunities provided by your instructor whether in person or online. Practice many times and in front of trusted peers. 
  6. Speech Lab - Visit your school’s speech lab or learning assistance center and don’t be afraid to seek input from others. 
  7. Ask - Ask your instructor if you need assistance or clarification on any assignments or course information. 
  8. Confidence - Work to be mentally and physically prepared for speech day. Keep your confidence and walk in with a positive mindset. 
  9. Deliver - Let your unique character come out. Speak naturally, maintain solid eye contact and use gestures to complement your words. 
  10. Reflect - Upon completion of your speech, take time to reflect on what worked for you and what didn’t. Use this reflection to guide your topic selection, organization and preparation for future speeches.

Hopefully these tips will help to set expectations for your students and provide an environment for them to thrive in your course. If we do our part by creating intelligent course design and arming our students with the tools they need to succeed, we have won half the battle. For more teaching tips that are specific to your personal course challenges, check out our Interactive Course Challenges Quiz.

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