This guide will help you prepare and conduct an effective speech or presentations after you have already created a speech or presentation.
Determine the type of speech delivery you are giving. The type of speech delivery influences the strategies you will use to practice the speech. The four types of speech delivery are:
When thinking about how you will deliver your speech, consider:
Below are some simple steps to take in practicing for your speech or presentation:
Practice your stance: If you will be standing while presenting your speech, then practice while standing. If you’ll be seated, practice while seated. If you’ll be on Zoom, practice to see what stance will work for your camera.
Speak out loud: It can be tempting to recite quietly when preparing. But reciting your speech at a similar volume to the volume you will use to present in class is another effective method of practice.
Practice without looking at the text: Even if you are not required to memorize your speech or presentation, practicing without looking at your text to see if you lose your train of thought.
Make your script easy to read: If you are planning on reading your speech from a script or notecards, format the words to make them easy to reference while you are presenting. Try these formatting tips:
Record yourself and listen to the recording: Recording yourself provides a way for you to gain an outside perspective of your presentation. Create a list of items you want to improve upon for your next trial run and practice again.
Ask yourself questions: The next step in building confidence in presenting is to evaluate your progress in being precise. Ask yourself:
Practice in front of an audience: Grab a friend, group member, family member or make an appointment with an Academic Coach and recite your speech or presentation in front of another person. This will help you bounce ideas off of someone and give you the chance to practice in front of people with whom you feel comfortable. For Zoom presentations, go through the mechanics of an actual Zoom rehearsal with another person. This may involve additional steps of preparing the physical space, such as lighting, tidying up, and setting the scene that will be viewable by the audience.
Try the Wonder Woman pose: It may feel funny, but some studies suggest that standing with your legs apart, hands on your hips, and chest out (much like Wonder Woman) for two minutes before a stressful event can build feelings of confidence.
When it comes to the day of the presentation, it is natural to experience feelings of nervousness or anxiety, but remember you have practiced for this presentation and be confident in what you have accomplished. Here are some tips on how to calm nerves in the moment and manage anxiety:
Arrive prepared: Make sure you have everything you need to give the presentation. Using your computer? Make sure it’s charged. Are you reading off a script or notecards? Pack them with your things the night before. If you’re presenting online, see these tips for synchronous online classes using Zoom/Collaborate/Teams.
Breathing exercises: Try 4-7-8 breathing to slow down and calm the mind and body. Inhale quietly through your nose to the count of four; hold your breath to the count of seven; exhale with sound through your mouth to the count of eight.
Maintain eye-contact. This will help you stay engaged with your audience and hold their attention during the speech. The goal is to make eye contact or maintain the illusion of eye-contact with members in the audience at all times you are speaking to them. An effective strategy for maintaining eye contact is to shift your focus between different areas of the audience (room) every few seconds. On Zoom/Collaborate/Teams, you can look at your camera to simulate the appearance of eye contact for the audience rather than looking at the faces on the screen.
Incorporate movement. Consider incorporating movement into your presentation. Movement can help support your message, connect with the audience, and dissipate nervous energy. Some tips for incorporating body movement include:
8 effective ways to practice a speech. Ragan Communications. (n.d.).
Oral Presentations: Tips on How to Deliver a Speech for School or Work | Jerz’s Literacy Weblog. (n.d.).
Reading Your Speech? 8 Simple Ways to Make Your Script Easy to Read! Speak Up For Success. (n.d.).
Speech Delivery • My Speech Class. (n.d.).
Developed and shared by The Learning Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.