blog Higher Education | 9min Read
Published on July 23, 2022
7 Tips to Improve your Public Speaking in High School: Ace it to make it!
Do you also believe public speaking is a nerve-wracking skill like I do? Yes, fear of public speaking is pervasive in all ages, especially teens like us who are hesitant to speak gibberish. For this reason, it may become a difficult pill to swallow. Public speaking is often overlooked in school, which results in children not being acquainted with the skills to speak in front of a large gathering, especially on a prompt topic. This results in high palpitations and a state of a meltdown when faced with the possibility of being asked to present a topic in public, even when the subject is well versed in your brain.
As seen in most of us, when given a topic to present in front of the class or school, we usually hesitate, have a second thought or wait for the time to pass by quicker. And then, you may have realized it too. Don’t we all end up envying the person comfortable in public speaking? While you struggle to complete it quicker, you question how the other person is good at this. Making you feel insecure and less skilful than others. Well, that is the importance of good communication and public speaking skills in today’s life.
Why is public speaking important?
Adolescents usually believe that public speaking is associated with marketing or sales, as you require it during elevator pitches and promoting your product. Indeed, that isn’t true. It is a skill primarily needed in all fields of life. It is a hallmark of good communication skills, and having good communication skills is essential for any career unless you are the only person in the entire office (which, of course, is next to impossible).
Nowadays, jobs and firms also judge you based on your communication skills and how you express yourself rather than just confining it to your qualifications. Even if you are the most intelligent person in the room but do not know how to communicate how you feel, the audience can’t grasp the primary objective of the presentation, losing the essence of the most brilliant idea. Likewise, the most common argument expressed more creatively is effective and appreciated as it is necessary to maintain the perspective and motive of your presentation that you want to educate the audience about.
Tips to improve public speaking skills:
1. Confidence is the key
It is essential to convey the message to your audience confidently. If you are hesitant or underconfident, the audience does not take your message seriously, and the ethos of the message usually fades away. They are attracted to good public speakers. This means that if you have the right public speaking skills, the more people you can motivate and influence. Communication plays an essential role in success, without which one is doomed. Yet for some reason, even those who are excellent communicators seem to lose their talent the minute they are asked to stand and speak before an audience. As this particular set of skills seems to be so rare and hard to find, if you study harder and you apply yourself to become a better public speaker, you will instantly see yourself growing as a different person altogether.
Likewise, the audience is always attracted to those who speak well in public. Listeners are more likely to listen to someone with killer presentation skills than someone who just stumbles their way through their cue cards. This means that if you have the right skill set, people are likely to learn from you, be swayed by you, or buy from you.
2. Bring creativity through simplicity
When talking about public speaking as a skill, the foremost aspect that needs to be kept in mind is to have no fear of failure by bringing on your creativity through simplicity. Children believe that using complex or ambitious words to express can help elevate the pitch or make it sound more pleasing to one’s ear.
However, that misconception needs to be detached from every developing mindset. The more complex your dictionary is when expressing yourself to an audience, the harder it becomes for the audience to understand what you are trying to convey. This often results in misunderstandings and the audience finding you ‘over-smart’ and not a ‘good communicator.’ Thus, it is best to keep your message crisp, clear and in the simplest form so that every kind of audience can understand the crux of the message.
3. Be clear without any fear
In a survey conducted in the United States of America, students chose ‘public speaking’ over ‘death’ when asked what their most significant fear (Ankur Warikoo, October 2020). This is the fear retained in every young heart. The reason why most teens lose out on their confidence when they are sent on stage to present a piece of art. As students, it is important to understand why this happens and how to overcome it:
- One should listen to themselves and what they are speaking. If you hear yourself, you will understand how much sense you make from the message you are trying to convey to the greater audience.
- ‘Be heard by the public. If they don’t take you seriously, considering you to be a child, no concrete message is being passed on by you to them.
- Be vulnerable and rhetorical. You must have a sense of emotional vulnerability to engage the audience in your speech/dialogue. The audience wants to be able to understand and connect to the speaker. But, one has to be eloquent in doing so too. Extending your hand across the stage and accepting perspectives isn’t easy even for public speakers- it requires a lot of reflection and active listening.
4. Maintain a good body language & wardrobe
Simultaneously, a point often neglected by people which plays an important role just as confidence does is body language and a decent wardrobe. When standing in front of an audience, it is important to have the correct body language and outfit. Well, most high schoolers like me would question why. This is because a first impression always sets a standard and is essential in judging what lies ahead.
When speaking in front of an audience, a sluggish posture portrays a bad image of us as children and loses the importance of the message being conveyed. One can’t tell if they’re relishing themselves, but one of the things that makes them compelling is their surrender to the moment, being fully present in their story and message. In my opinion, this presence makes them credible, captivates us, and makes us want to follow them.
5. Weave your speech in the form of a story
Furthermore, ever noticed how a speech or presentation that has left a mark on you is usually woven into a story. This is the influential art of storytelling which leaves a stone on every young/old heart. Storytelling is the most potent speaking tool in your public speaking skills toolbox. Teens like us may question why storytelling is the key to becoming a great speaker. Because people are hungry for stories. It is part of our very being. The storyteller brings a story to life and transports the listener to another time, location, or situation. When we connect to a story well, it foreshadows other thoughts and memories running in our mind. We remember the experience long after the account has been told.
A story provides the “hook to hang on” that a good speech must have to be remembered. Firstly, to be a creative storyteller and a great public speaker, the hunger to be creative and spontaneous is very much required. You should be well-versed in the topic, more than just cramming information from your speech that you rote-learned last evening. Nevertheless, bringing the story to your life is essential for the audience to connect better with it. The need for pathos is necessary to understand and captivate the audience.
6. Don’t repeat or linger around
Lastly, don’t be repetitive and linger around. For example, you may have noticed when someone tells a good joke, but then they mess it up by repeating it? It feels like you are being robbed of the experience. Once you’re done reciting, stop! Don’t try to explain it. Let the audience savour it. Let their thoughts linger on so they can enjoy it, think about what has been said and draw their meaning from it. By reflecting on it, they internalize the lesson and will remember your speech long after it’s been given. The more you become explanatory, the more the message loses its meaning, affecting the speech and the speaker.
7. Don’t look out for appreciation
Adapting to your innate abilities and current circumstances is critical for successful public speaking. It is crucial to assimilate and adapt to changing knowledge, circumstances, and environmental demands. The ability to adapt to the audience; real-world problems necessitate the active deployment of your intelligence, a key characteristic of excellent public speakers. Simon Sinek, a famous public speaker, said, “No speaker comes on the stage to receive anything; they come to give.” He validates his quote through an example: no speaker from backstage says that he is delivering a speech to get a standing ovation. Obviously, you get one if the audience relishes you, but it is not why we deliver it. This showcases a vital characteristic of a public speaker: have a selfless attitude, where you don’t believe in getting anything in return. The attitude shift is what marks a significant difference between a public speaker and a sales analyst.
Public speaking abilities are helpful in situations where you must address a large group of people. Because communication and general speaking skills are inextricably linked, improving your public speaking skills will inevitably enhance your interpersonal communication skills with your peers and family. As a result, if you are ever allowed to practise or learn public speaking skills, don’t pass it up. Please pick up your courage and go for it whether you’re in class, the office, or any other situation that requires you to deliver a message to an audience. The ability to speak in public is a skill; the more you use and practice it, the better you will become. There are many public speaking audio books or guide books to learn from if you want to improve your public speaking skills or are a new beginner. You will have an advantage over others if you learn to speak in public.
It doesn’t take much time to improve your speaking skills, and with all the potential benefits you can reap from those skills, it seems clear that this is an area you need to be involved in. Even working just a little bit each week can, over time, turn you into a speaker that will be the envy of everyone around you. That is why we must accept that speaking in front of an audience is inevitable, and when life throws lemons at us, we squash it to make lemonades. Face our fears head-on. Before you let that fear get to you, catch it head-on. Learn better public speaking skills. Be the best speaker you can be. Remove all the hesitations and insecurities and do what you must do. You have to do them anyway, so do them with style and make yourself proud. These tips (mentioned above) are helpful as they mostly came from a group of professional speakers who want to help you conquer that fear.
Check out our Harvard YLC Programme
Finally, I will reiterate that the best way to improve your communication and public speaking skills is through practice, because practice makes a man perfect. You must speak to enhance these skills—volunteer to speak whenever you can. Our Harvard Youth Leadership Conference is a five-day conference on leadership through the realms of public speaking, collaboration, and communication. The 5-day conference is aimed at high school students who are essentially advised to learn these skills, as it helps in every aspect of life post-school. You, as children, learn how to collaborate and communicate with your peers to develop a social project that you present in front of a large audience by the end of the conference. This way, you learn the skills of public speaking from collaborating, being confident and then communicating. This results in boosting not only your confidence but also helps you conquer your greatest fear.
To have an in-depth understanding of the conference, you can check out our website or various masterclasses on youtube! Don’t forget to check it out and educate yourself from our webinars and masterclasses, which are easily accessible and targeted at YOU and YOUR PEERS. For more information, please go check out our official website @www.thebigredgroup.com. Till then, we will keep you updated!