Written by Terry McMillan, Hult Global Ambassador and Masters in International Marketing student Class of 2018.
It’s that dreaded thing that makes you so nervous your palms sweat and your stomach tie up in knots: speaking in public. The idea of having every eye in the audience on you can cause your mind to race and beads of sweat to form on your forehead.
“No matter what you do, or what profession you choose after Hult, public speaking will be a part of your life.”
At Hult, every class you take requires some form of public speaking, whether it’s a full-blown presentation in front of professors, classmates, and future employers or it’s being asked to answer questions in class. No matter what you do, or what profession you choose after Hult, public speaking will be a part of your life and career. Trust me as someone whose heart sinks every time I find out that I have to present, public speaking can be terrifying, but a necessary and useful skill to have.
I’ve put together 5 top tips to help you calm your nerves and make you a better public speaker overall:
1. Enunciate and Project
When presenting, there is no time to be shy. Enunciating your words and projecting your voice not only helps your audience to hear you clearly, but it also adds a level of professionalism, interest, and overall confidence to your presentation. So, when you’re standing at the front of the room, stage or auditorium talk louder than you would in your normal conversations with friends but softer than your car karaoke sessions. Find a happy middle ground.
2. Practice & Knowledge
When it comes to talking about practice, I don’t just mean practice two or three times. Practice so much you can present what you need to in your sleep. It really does get easier the more times you do it. At Hult, you have the opportunity to take part in multiple events and challenges that will require you to speak publicly. Use these wonderful (but sometimes nerve-racking) opportunities to your advantage and perfect your presentation skills. I’ve always found that those who truly know the information present with such ease, especially during the Q and A session.
3. Talk slowly
When practicing and presenting in real time, most individuals (myself included) talk much faster than normal. Speak slowly and let the natural pauses within the rhythm of speech happen. It may feel uncomfortable, but what it actually does is the opposite. It shows the audience how comfortable you are and provides them the chance to truly digest the information you are giving to them.
“The trick is to fake ’til you make it!”
4. Confidence is key
This one is one of my personal favorites, and I live by it every time. There’s a moment I have to myself just before I make my way up to present. I tell myself that although I’m nervous and I would like to be anywhere else but here, I have no choice but to get this done. I have no choice, but to go out there and represent myself and/or my team in the best possible way. I turn my nervousness into excitement. The trick is to fake it ’til you make it! I exude so much confidence that it makes everyone in the audience believe it…even me.
5. Relax, Breathe, & Smile
Lastly, just remember what you’re feeling is probably the same as so many others around you. That this moment is exactly that, a simple moment that goes by much faster than you think. So, relax. Take a deep a breath. And remember to smile – it’s contagious!
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