This semester I elected to take SPC1608. For those of you that don’t know, SPC 1608 is a speech class. Most of the students in the course are taking it simply because they need to fulfill the General Education requirements for the AA Degree–but there are some students that chose to improve upon their public speaking skills on their own.
Regardless of the reason for taking the course, all students have one thing in common. We must all get in front of the class, and speak. Multiple times!
After discussing this with my classmates I came to the conclusion that not only myself, but everyone was nervous about this. We have no problem giving a speech to a family member or a friend, but when a group of fellow classmates is in front of us we freak! My professor has spent the first 4 weeks of this semester preparing us for the dreaded moment, and it seems as though it’s not really all that bad after all.
After coming up with my own presentation, making the slide show, rehearsing it, and stressing the entire time, I can speak from experience when saying “You can do it.” Last week I nervously gave my first speech in college, and it was actually quite fun! I will admit, I was very nervous, and I will probably be nervous when the next speech comes around… But it was a great learning experience and I think it is something everyone should try.
The first thing I learned would be practice. I rehearsed several dozen times, and I swore I knew my speech by heart.. (and I did.) When you get up in front of those folks and try to focus, it’s easy to get off topic and forget what you were supposed to say. Luckily, I have experience making powerpoints (or slide shows, if you will) so I was able to use that as a crutch to keep myself on track.
The second (and most significant) thing I learned when presenting to the class, is to bring water! I thought a bottle of water would be enough to get me through a 10-15 minute speech.. I was wrong. The bottle I had brought with me was gone before it was even time for me to start speaking! The reason you get to be so thirsty when it’s time to present, is because of adrenaline. Your body takes different priorities when your adrenaline is pumping, and keeping your mouth moist is at the bottom of the list. (This is related to the “Fight, flight, or freeze” theory, of which I can vouch is 100% accurate.) So, bring LOTS of water and be sure to drink it when you need to. It helps keep one less thing off of your mind while you are presenting, and it helps the audience understand you better when your tongue isn’t sticking to the roof of your mouth.
The third thing I learned about speaking publicly is that I’m not the only one who’s nervous. The audience knows just how I’m feeling when I’m in front of them, and informing them about a given topic. They aren’t there to try to embarrass me, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Your classmates are your friends, and they all want you to do well. So, you really don’t need to be worried in the first place. It’s not like they are all judges on American Idol, and your speech will determine whether you go to Los Angeles or not. Granted, you are being graded on your speech and overall performance, but it’s not something you will be judged on by thousands of people!!
The semester is quickly passing us by, and every day I am learning something new. The everyday experiences we have continue to teach us many things. I know now that my next speech will be a lot easier than the first one, and I believe that the more we are in front of people the better our experiences will be.
What are your experiences with Public Speaking? Drop me a line and tell me your story by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org