4 classroom-tested public speaking techniques

USA Today

Speech 101 doesn’t have to be the palm-sweating, horrifying graduation requirement that most students make it out to be.

I, too, fell victim to the fear of public speaking, putting off enrollment in the course every semester until it stood as the only thing separating me from my degree. But once I finally finished it, I found that public speaking isn’t nearly as nerve-racking or nightmare-inducing as it’s billed.

Here are four classroom-tested techniques that proved essential to my success in overcoming my fears and getting an ‘A’ in the course:

1. Practice piecemeal the three nights leading up to Speech Day

Compressing practice into a frantic last-minute run-through on Speech Day Eve — or worse yet, Speech Day Morning — makes for a high-risk, high-stress freak-out fest that yields little, if any, improvement to a presentation. Though procrastination might work for most lower-level gen-eds, it’s an exercise in futility for Speech 101 — a class graded on performances and preparedness, not papers and projects.

2. Prezi > PowerPoint

Between its tacky transitions, unforgivable stock clipart and flat-out unnecessary sound effects, PowerPoint has metastasized into the malignant tumor of Microsoft Office.

It’s time to excise it out of your presentations altogether and replace the stale software with fun freeware — Prezi, to be exact. As my speech instructor told me, “Prezi is the anti-PowerPoint.” That is, everything PowerPoint is, Prezi is not. Rather than adhering to a strictly linear progression that advances from “Slide 1″ to “Slide 2″ to “Slide 3″ (as is PowerPoint’s wont), Prezi employs a nonlinear zoom pathway that enables users to magnify within individual slides (which Prezi calls frames), as well as between successive frames.

The result is a dynamic story, rather than a static slideshow, that unfolds in three dimensions and captivates audiences by taking them along for a ride. Best of all, a standard Prezi account—which otherwise runs $59 per year—comes free with a .edu e-mail address.

Read more at the USA Today website.