Public speaking skills are important for any professional. However, they don't always come easily to high schoolers. If you aren't a natural public speaker, try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to find public speaking opportunities. Although it may feel uncomfortable, sharpening these skills as a teenager is an excellent way to help yourself achieve your future career goals. If you need some guidance on how to improve your public speaking, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.
1. Come prepared
There's nothing more boring than watching a presenter who is robotically reading notes. Be sure to practice your presentation beforehand so that you can throw away your notes and just speak to your audience. If you don't feel confident without using notes after practice, be sure that they are in bullet-point form instead of full sentences. This will ensure that your speaking is as natural as possible.
2. Speak as slowly as possible
Speaking in front of large groups is naturally nerve-racking. This nervousness often causes us to speak quickly, making it difficult for audiences to understand. To remedy this, you will want to overcorrect, talking at what feels like an incredibly slow speed. Although it may feel awkward, this practice will ensure you appear calm, cool, and collected and that your audience can understand what you're saying.
3. Pay attention to body language
Your body language can communicate almost as much as your words. Try your best to stand up straight to exude confidence. If you're in an in-person setting, try to make occasional eye contact with different audience members. In a virtual setting, be sure to look into the camera a few times to make a connection with your listeners. Additionally, whether your audience is virtual or in-person, try to pay attention to your hands and feet, avoiding fidgeting as much as you can.
We these tips in mind, you’re sure to rock the house. If you want even more practice, you should explore the Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program, which will give you a safe environment to practice speaking in front of a real audience!