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Mike Westwood
Noodle Expert Member

May 01, 2020

This article will detail my advice on how to present a speech in a manner that will come off as confident and make it stand out. It will be told solely from my perspective.

Making speaking presentations in college can be a challenge for certain students. The ability to orate in front of a group of people may seem nerve-wracking and cause stress. I was uncomfortable with presenting for a long time, dating back to my high school years. I became more comfortable when I had a realization about a perspective that makes presenting much easier, the idea that an audience of your peers and professor is not there to heckle you. Your audience in a college setting is there to listen and give their input on your ideas. That mentality improved my self-confidence.

My first educational speaking assignment was in the 11th grade when I had to present an assortment of specific work I did that my school called “Anchor Assignments." The term “Anchor Assignment" was derived from the school mascot, a Skipper, a nickname for the captain of a ship. Every 11th grader had to complete and pass this presentation as part of their “E-Portfolio" to advance to the 12th grade. To my benefit, I was assigned to present in front of teachers in the Special Education Department, so those teachers were understanding of my diagnoses.

I presented well enough to pass, albeit my articulation included the very common speaking blunder of saying “um" a little too much. I will always account that to nerves, but I just pressed forward and did my best. I was given some nice praise from one of the teachers regarding my improved eye contact from when she first met me my freshman year. I was taking social skills therapy during that time and I received frequent critiques about not making enough direct eye contact in a conversation, so I was mindful of that for this presentation. Making eye contact and using hand gestures conveys self-confidence in a speech, and while I did not use many hand gestures in the presentation, my eye contact was on point.

I took several college courses that entailed speaking assignments, especially at Curry, since I was a Communication major. That is where I was taught the hand gestures tip and have since incorporated it into my conversational style. Saying filler words such as the aforementioned “um," “like," and “basically" are usual for novice speakers due to nerves, but the professors at Curry would correct students about that behavior often. Displaying appropriate posture, as in standing straight up with your eyes directed toward your audience, will come off as self-confident and self-assured to your listeners.

Being yourself and exuding your natural personality is essential as well, because being genuine and true to who you are will make you appear more charismatic. I learned that during my college years, at both colleges I attended. You should apply the proper speech-making behaviors, while being yourself, to ensure an effective speech and to earn higher grades. That type of mentality will be useful in the workforce too, for professionalism purposes and to improve workplace communication skills.

The most important aspect to be aware of in speech-making in college is to be articulate and practice. Knowing what your points are and wording them properly will go a long way in creating a good impression with your classmates and professors. That concept also apples to colleagues and managers in the workplace, where effective communication is crucial to career development and advancement. I will always remember the tutelage I received about making speeches because it allowed me to mature as a speaker.

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