Like other youth leaders, I frequently get asked to talk about the work I do as the founder of WiTech. But what I still can’t believe I can say is that I’ve been able to deliver speeches at crazy places like the United Nations HQ in Bangkok, an ASEAN conference, UNICEF HQ, and most recently the Asian Development Bank. But besides those intimidating places that seem like news report backdrops, I have also found myself sharing my stories and experiences to schools across Metro Manila.
In the three years that I have sidelined as a public speaker, I have picked up a couple of habits along the way. Here are some of my tips so you can ace your next speaking opportunity:
1. Write down and organize all your ideas
Determine what you want your audience to get out of your talk and group your ideas from there. You don’t want to lose your listeners midway because of the lack of flow or direction you are taking. Instead, try to link similar ideas together so that you avoid repetition and maintain a natural flow during your presentation.
Once you know what ideas you want in your talk, it’s time to condense them into guiding points that you can use while you speak. The shorter the points are, the better. If you write too much on your outline, you run the risk of reading off your outline instead of looking at your audience and connecting with them. With a lack of eye contact, you could lose your audience’s attention. By having a concise outline, you ensure that you don’t miss the best points of your talk and maintain a flow guided by each bullet point.
3. Rehearse in front of family or friends
You have an outline—now it’s time to practice! As you expound on each point, know that you don’t have to recite the same thing word per word. Instead, aspire to naturally explain an idea the way you would to a friend or family member (but do not sound too colloquial!). If you get anxious, having a family or friend maintain eye contact with you or offer a helpful nod as you practice can help diffuse initial nerves.
4. Actively seek constructive criticism
After each practice session, ask your practice audience how they think you should improve. No matter how harsh or light the feedback may be, consider how it can best help you convey your ideas to your intended audience. Upon receiving feedback, practice again until you and your practice audience are satisfied with how you delivered your speech.
5. Accept the fact that it won’t be perfect
There is no ‘perfect’ speech because there is no way to flawlessly convey an idea. There are multiple ways to share information, stories, and more. Instead of having that scare you, use it to remind yourself that even if you pause for too long or stumble on your words, you’ll be okay! If anything, making mistakes during your speech reminds your audience that you’re human—just like everyone.
No matter how hectic my schedule gets, I always look forward to public speaking and the opportunities it can bring. My appreciation for delivering talks comes from a specific epiphany. I realized that talks are moments wherein people are giving their time and their attention to hear another person’s ideas.
To me, there is something so profound about the sharing of ideas and the potential it can have to inspire others. Whether you are giving a talk about an idea you find incredibly intimidating or one that you love so much that you almost have too much to say, know that you have the opportunity—for a couple of minutes up to an hour—to share your voice. Prepare, practice, and believe in yourself; you will be amazing.
Find more articles about skill development through Edukasyon.ph, and check out our Generation Zen blog section for more tips and advice that will help you succeed in your education-to-career journey.