How to give the perfect speech

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NEWS FLASH: Not everyone was born a public speaker.

Yes, there are those people who can just walk into a room and own it with little effort. However, in reality, majority of us do not fit into that category. Good news: you don’t have to be a pro to give a good speech! Here are 10 tips for making a great speech every time.

1. Plan

If you are visiting this page at midnight to find a magical way to prepare a speech for your class tomorrow, stop reading and get some sleep. Because no good speech came from someone just “winging it.” Speeches given without any planning can be either a mess or a half success. Why not experience a whole success?

First of all, pick a topic if it is not already given to you. Pick a topic you are interested in. The worse thing to do is pick an unfamiliar topic that you are not even 1% interested in.

Second, make an outline and stick to it. Once you have brainstormed and organized your thoughts on paper, you have your work cut out for you. You really do. Treat this outline like your safety blanket. It is your foundation to success.

2. Practice

You’ve heard it again and again: “Practice makes perfect!” Now that you have a good outline, you HAVE TO practice. No matter how comfortable you feel about the topic, you must practice. Take it from someone who knows. I have given a speech once where I did not practice. I read my outline a couple times thinking that I was ready, but when the time came, I stumbled through the whole thing. Ever since then, I always practice my speech beforehand. One good tip is to practice the ACTUAL speech. Some speeches are timed, so it’s best to practice alone with a timer as if you are giving the real presentation.

3. Get some rest

Nothing is worse than giving a speech when you are half asleep. Granted, life happens. Perhaps your infant was crying till 5 am. Perhaps you just came from a 12 hour shift and  still need to complete a  load of assignments before 12:00 am. Either way, make sure you can do anything in your power to get a decent amount of sleep before your speech. You will feel more alert which will leave less room for careless rambling in your speech.

4. Make eye contact

The worst thing to do is keep your eyes on your note cards during your whole presentation. That is a sure way to lose points on your speech. You do not want that. It may seem scary at first to look at everyone while you speak, but stay calm. Take a deep breath and make eye contact with as many people as you can. Shift your focus. Do not go overboard and scan the rows one by one. You will scare people, and they will not learn anything from your speech!

5. Use “good” visual aids

I say “good” because I have seen some visual aids that were poorly constructed. Always make a power point if it is allowed. Power points are large enough for everyone to see and clearer than pictures under an overhead machine. An attractive, well organized power point presentation makes an excellent “attention-getter” for your audience. If it is neat and well planned, you will also gain some respect from your audience. You may even want to bring some tangible visual aids as well. For example, bring some rocks if you are talking about rocks and minerals. If passing it around  becomes a distraction,just hold it where everyone can see.

6. Smile

As Annie says “you’re never fully dressed without a smile.” And she’s right! It’s always a good idea to smile, especially during a speech. Before you begin, smile and introduce yourself. Throughout the presentation, remember to smile occasionally. Nothing turns off an audience more than a cold serious face. How can you persuade people that mayonnaise is the best condiment when you look like you hate mayonnaise. A smile shows confidence and passion. That’s what people want to see.

7. Use humor

Anyone can humor to add some flare to a speech. Unless your topic is not serious, a little humor wouldn’t hurt. If you are not naturally a funny person, try using some sarcastic humor. A little oxymorons can trigger laughter which will make your audience and yourself feel more comfortable. Just don’t over do it and keep it appropriate.

8. Make natural movements

It’s best not to stay in one place like a statue. People will get the impression you are either nervous or just plain boring. Try speaking with your hands a little. If you are naming points, try using your fingers naturally to count off each point. Try walking a little away from your main spot just to get a better view of your audience and show them you are approachable. Stay loose. Don’t ever stand in one spot with your hands folded. That will make you look very unapproachable.

9. Avoid fillers

Whatever you do, do not overuse “um” and “like.” I noticed that people get a good laugh from a casual speaker who will use “like” here and there. For example saying “I went to the store and was like” rather than “I went to the store and thought to myself” may be more natural depending on timing and audience. But a general rule is to avoid it as much as possible. NEVER use curse words as a filler. That is not professional at all. Even if you forgot a statistic or a name of something, do not use vulgar language at any time in the presentation. I know, the awkward pauses may be inevitable, but remain appropriate. When in doubt, just skip over it instead of making yourself look like a fool.

10. Believe in yourself

I know this may seem cliche, but once you have all of the top tips in your pocket, you need to make it happen. If you keep telling yourself you can’t do it, you will not be able to do it. Yes, your nightmare will happen if you do not pull up your pants and start believing. Think about it this way, you practiced and planned so why shouldn’t you be confident? If you have prepared your best, do not be ashamed of what you have to deliver. There will always be critics, but don’t take it personally and sort through the right comments. Remember to use your feedback to improve on what you lack.

 

And there you have it! Now you are equipped with 10 tips of how to give the perfect speech. Stick to these tips, and you may even surprise yourself on how amazing of a public speaker you can be! Good luck!

 

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Procrastination: why it is so addicting and “how to get over it”

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A few years ago, I was a first class procrastinator. I have spent time with procrastinators and non-procrastinators. The main difference between these people is their outlook on work itself. While both may not enjoy a task, they both see the action of completing the task in a different light. What makes procrastinating so appealing to some people? It’s all about mindset.

The procrastinator will look at a job and find it useless to put in his best efforts. He thinks that he can get away with “winging it” and still reap the benefits of the job in the end. The procrastinator lives in a fantasy thinking he is superman and can take on a 12 page essay in one night without sleep. His motto is “play before work.”

The Non-procrastinator, on the other hand, cannot make sense out of this logic. To him, it doesn’t make sense to procrastinate. “Why wait till tomorrow, when you can do it today?” These people tend to be more responsible and experience less stress in the end because they are not pulling “all-nighters” and trying to figure out what excuses to tell the teacher the next day.

Yes, the procrastinator can still get good grades. He can still complete assignments, but it will not be at his best performance. The procrastinator can hide it at times. But don’t be fooled. Chances are he has experienced many heart attacks and been through many finger marathons before 11:59 pm.

How to stop procrastinating:

1. Make a list

Most of procrastination lies in the mind. So it’s time to turn that mindset upside down! Making a list can keep your mind busy which will cause the “responsible, finish-the-job” juices to start flowing through those veins. A list will give you a road map to success. Be sure to put dates to your goals! What good is a list if you have no idea when to finish the goals? Don’t worry if you cannot finish each goal at the right time. The best thing to do is to set your goal 3 days before the due date. Maybe even a week if you are uncertain. That gives you time to repair anything, or prepare for life’s surprises that love to get in the way of our plans!

2. Give yourself a prize

Everyone likes a little motivation to complete a task. That’s one of the reasons why people work. We are motivated by money 70% of the time. Why not use this classic theory to help you stop procrastinating? Tell yourself that you will treat yourself at the end of the week if you get all of your tasks finished. Verbal positive reinforcements are also a nice way to get motivated. You don’t have to be cocky about it, but it’s okay to hang your achievements in your room. If you got an A+ for a paper you finished on time, hang it on your fridge! Take pride in your own work, and you will become addicted to finishing jobs on time!

3. Set your goals high

If you are a D student, it’s best not to aim for an A. That may be too daunting. But try aiming for a B instead of a C just to pass. EVERYONE is fully capable of passing a course if they put some effort into it. Don’t let simply “passing” be your goal! Try aiming for an A and B and get working on it! You’d be surprised at how fully capable you are to looking like a genius. I have personally thought I couldn’t make an A in a class once. The thoughts would constantly replay in my mind: “I received B’s in the classes before, so why would now be any different?” But once I tried setting those negative thoughts aside and started placing my goal up high, guess what grade I received in the end? That’s right a D! Just kidding. I received an A of course. Why? Because I actually took the effort to open my books and take notes instead of choosing to watch tv and eat cereal all day.

4. Learn to say no

This one is a great point because there are so many people out there who will try taking your precious time away from you. If it is not an emergency, you must learn how to say no. I know, it will be hard. Know that fun will always be around, but your deadlines won’t. Finish your assignments so you can enjoy without suffering from the consequences. Even if your family is watching tv in the living room and ask you to join, stop. I’ve done that many times. My family would say “it’s only one movie” or “how long does it take to finish your assignments” or “it’s just a class.” Don’t let these comments fool you. Trust me, they will be more proud of you if you receive good grades in the end. It’s okay to politely turn down any invitations from friends too. Just learn to set aside some time for people. You don’t want to be a “cave-dweller” but you do want to do what’s best.

5. Learn to say no TO YOURSELF

Most of the time, YOU will be your worse enemy. Perhaps everyone is leaving you alone to study, yet you choose to fulfill your own wishes. You have the free time, yet you listen to yourself and binge watch on Netflix or go hiking or shopping instead. Stop! Realize that what you may want right now can wait. No matter how badly you may want to do something fun, wait till after you finished your assignments. It’s okay to take a break now and then, but make sure you can dedicate AT LEAST  30 minutes to your project a day. Beware of when your brain wants to shut down for a nap too. There have been times where I was glad I did not sleep in and instead wake up early to study. Make sure you get enough sleep to function, but remember that you do not have to stay in bed all day. Once your job is done, you will be able to lay in bed with your popcorn all day guilt free!

There you have it folks. A nice list of how to get over procrastination. I have spent 2 semesters of college being a procrastinator (the kind that would submit a whole essay at 11:59 pm). Let me just say that it wasn’t always fun! I’d experience so much anxiety and stress for something I could have avoided.  But once I tried to quit my lazy ways, I have never gone back since! Procrastinating can be an addiction. But just like any other addiction, you can learn to set yourself free.