Speeches 101

Utilizing movement and non-verbal cues are keys to giving an engaging speech.
Utilizing movement and non-verbal cues are keys to giving an engaging speech. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus

Speeches and presentations are possibly the most dreaded of all class assignments. It doesn’t matter if you are a welding engineering major or communications, at some point you will have to speak in front of the class. I’ve learned that the only way to alleviate the nervousness is to be very prepared.

It’s great to know what you are going to say, but if what you are saying sucks, your grade will, too.

Unless you are presenting your five-year plan at your company, there is no reason to make your speech boring. Everyone has seen the guy or gal who reads directly from his or her PowerPoint and concludes with the signature, “So, um… yeah. That’s it.” Don’t shy away from entertaining visual aids like a funny YouTube video that you can tie back into your presentation. The class will love it and you won’t go down in history as a boring asshole.

Posture is about 30 percent of the battle. Standing still with your hands in your pockets is a big middle finger to everyone in the room. Take your hands out of your pockets and pretend you’re in the mafia. That means move your hands when you speak. Also, walk around a little bit. Think of the audience as a dinosaur that can only see you when you’re moving.

If you’ve been in class for a couple weeks, you know which one of your classmates is the weirdo that likes to raise his or her hand. Call on that person. Ask someone a question. Getting the audience involved in your presentation is key to keeping everyone’s attention. Bonus, it stretches out your presentation a bit when someone else talks.

Lastly, conclude your speech like an adult. Tie your main points together and do not forget to ask the class if they have any questions. If you know your material you should be confident in answering questions. If you don’t know an answer, assure the asker that you will find out and let them know.