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Public Speaking at College: How To Prepare

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College is a time of higher learning, higher expectations, and going against the grain of personal comfort in a classroom setting. I’m referring to the inevitable college in-class presentation:

To about 75% of the average population, public speaking or public presenting is an unapproachable concept. People are so afraid of it, that they either don’t do it, or they just barely survive it, making the presentation as a whole, awkward and monotonous to the audience and completely traumatizing to the reticent speaker.

They don’t take the time to understand and work through their fear, educate themselves on the process of presenting, and build confidence as a result of preparedness, knowledge and the indifference to public perception, which is key.


There are two central aspects to public speaking or presenting a speech. The first is preparedness and the second is presentation, which I address in a later article. A successful speech is dependent upon how well you can address the following steps of preparation, and it does not just involve finding a topic and writing a speech. It involves research, evaluation, and introspection.

Collect Information and Evaluate the Audience Demographic

In order to capture the interest of your audience, it is crucial to evaluate the overall demographic of the group. Will you be speaking to mostly women or men? What will the standard age of your audience be, young or old or maybe an equal combination of the two? What will be the general intellect level of the audience?

Collect Information and Evaluate the Setting

The setting of where your speech will take place, i.e., the time of day, the temperature and size of the room, the number of people you will be speaking to, and your physical position (standing or sitting, looking down upon the audience or up toward the audience), will dictate your tone and the audience’s interest and responsiveness.

Choose Topic Based on Audience and Setting Evaluations

One thing you have to remember, first, is that it is simply impossible to please every one of your audience members. People’s preferences can be different. Targeting topics that your audience will appreciate and generally be interested in is your goal.

For instance, if you are speaking to a body of people that are mostly women, you may want to choose a topic of more effeminate nature. If your audience majority is young adults and made up of both genders equally, you may want to choose more a of gender-neutral, age-appropriate targeted topic.

Also, it may be helpful to do student interviews on their personal likability of the topic you are desiring to write about. It certainly does not hurt to get a feel for the prospective audience response before you speak on that subject.

Write Your Speech According To:

1. Your knowledge on the subject.

2. Your personal beliefs and convictions about the subject.

3. General audience interest relating to the overall demographic.

Write Your Speech Using:

1. Easy-to-understand vocabulary.

2. Organized formatting and easy-to-follow main points.

3. No offensive or perverse language or references.

4. Humor and audience commonalities.

5. Plenty of material to cover the length of time you will be speaking

Practice, Practice, Practice

The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you will become. Engrain your presentation into your head so you won’t lose control if you become discouraged and distracted from your notes. The feeling of total chagrin that makes you want to crawl in a hole, curl up in fetal position, never to be heard from again is not the flavor you want to leave yourself with after making a speech. You can avoid this by practice and preparation.

A marathon runner trains and conditions his body, a musician rehearses her music, so should you repeatedly go through your presentation, and even if you are feeling confident about your ability to go in front of an audience, you should still get into shape and get ready for your speech. You never know how the audience will receive it until you are in the middle of it.

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