Introduction: Presenting a Speech in College

There is debate among public speakers over how many different speeches exist. Some state that a speech can only be informative, persuasive, or entertaining (LibGuides). Others place demonstrative speeches in a category of their own (4). This list occasionally even reaches over seven or more types of speeches. Regardless of the category of speech you wish to present, there are simple steps you can take every time to deliver a successful speech. It is pertinent to remember that in every step professionalism will lead to achievement.

What you will need:

1. Outline of your speech

2. Appropriate apparel

3. Confidence

Step 1: Topic Selection

First you will need to select a topic to present over. When picking a speech keep in mind that there should always be a purpose behind your presentation. Your purpose can be to persuade, inform, or entertain. So when you choose your topic ask yourself, “How will this topic make an impact on my class and why do I want it to make one”? Once you have a topic with purpose behind it you need to consider your audience.

Step 2: Know Your Audience

To write a successful outline you must keep in mind who your audience is. There are four kinds of people who might be listening to your speech. They can be friendly, neutral, indifferent, or hostile. The friendly audience already agrees with you. The neutral audience has no prior knowledge over what you are presenting. The indifferent don’t care and the hostile disagree with your stance. In your speech, you need to reinforce the opinions and information the friendly audience already holds and inform the neutral party on what they didn’t know prior to your speech. You should show the indifferent party what is in it for them and respect the hostile audiences opinions while presenting why you’ve chosen to take the side that you have selected (Persuasive). Appealing to your audience is considered specific to a persuasive speech however I find that it is useful in every format. In your outline, make sure you find a place for each one of these appeals.

Step 3: The Outline

An outline for public speaking is similar to a standard high school English paper. There will be an introduction, multiple body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Your introduction should begin with some form of relevant hook. This can be a personal experience, joke, fact, quote, or anything that will grasp the interest of your audience. Keep in mind that if you choose to go with a joke, you do run the risk of offending your audience at the very beginning. Next, clearly state what your speech is about and why you are presenting it. Finally, summarize each of your main body paragraphs and transition into your next paragraph. In a sense, this is the thesis statement of your speech. Each main body paragraph should have an introductory statement, main concepts, and supporting ideas, sources, and examples. They also need to finish with a transition sentence to maintain the flow of your speech. Your final paragraph has two purposes. The first is to summarize what you have spoken over and the second is what is known as the, “call to action”. This is when you have the opportunity as a speaker to give a true purpose behind your words. The call to action is what you as a speaker desire for the audience to take from your speech (Sample). Once again this is an aspect of a speech that is associated with persuasive speeches specifically, but can be useful in any type of speech. Without this your presentation, no matter how well formatted, holds little to no purpose. Unlike an English assignment writing a speech ends at the outline. Your final draft is created orally instead.

Step 4: Practice

After you complete the outline of your speech, practicing aloud begins. In public speaking this is where most of your preparation time should be focused. One of the best ways to practice a speech is to present it over and over
again until you eventually find a flow that will sound great while staying within your allotted time. You should never walk in on presentation day having practiced your speech less than five times. From the moment, you begin practicing you should be on your feet and treating it like it’s the official presentation. Once you feel comfortable enough with your words, switch focus to your facial expressions, posture, and gestures. Consider spots in your speech that have a strong verbal emphasis to make eye contact with your professor. If you need to walk around during your speech try to never take more than two steps at a time. Don’t bounce your knees or fidget and finally keep your hand gestures above the waist. This all comes from practice. The last step before your presentation is to pick out an appropriate outfit to present in.

Step 5: Apparel

Appropriate apparel is subjective to the individual professor. If your professor doesn’t make their expectations clear, don’t hesitate to ask them for specifics. However, there are a few good rules of thumb in dressing to impress that will always help. For women, heels are almost always a good idea. The only exception to this is if your speech involves several very active gestures. Heels will adjust your posture and help you feel and look more professional. If you choose to wear a short business skirt or dress pick a modest length and consider wearing tights or pantyhose. Both options will help in creating a more mature appearance for yourself. For men, pants are always the way to go. There is nothing that will make you look younger or more informal than wearing a pair of shorts. You might not need to wear slacks but at the very least favor your khakis or jeans over cargo shorts. Secondly, wear a belt. It’s a simple touch but one that significantly increases the professionalism of your outfit. The most important thing to remember when selecting your outfit is that the more professional you feel, the more professional you’ll act. When you walk into class the last thing that should be on your mind is whether you are appropriately dressed or not.

Step 6: Presentation

Congratulations, you have made it to presentation day. You have a topic you’re passionate about, a well-practiced speech, and a professional outfit that will tell your audience that you mean business. Take this knowledge and transform it into confidence. If you’ve prepared properly, this is the only thing left that will affect the success of your speech. When you are called up to present, remind yourself that you have worked hard and now can share your efforts with the class and your professor. In short, confidence is key.

Step 7: Conclusion:

These guidelines are intended to be a physical guide to becoming a better public speaker but you must keep in mind that each person has their own styles and quirks. Every time you present don’t hesitate to ask your classmates and professors about little mistakes you’ve made so that you can work on them. Part of being a great public speaker is learning from your mistakes and constantly improving. Furthermore, find what works best for you. If everyone spoke in the exact same style it would be an incredibly boring world. Find what you’re good at and make that your speaking identity. The more experience you have public speaking, the more you’ll discover what your gift is. Time, practice, and being open-minded to criticism will all lead to you becoming a brilliant speaker inside and outside of the classroom.

Step 8: Sources

"4 Basic Types of Speeches." Ian's Messy Desk. N.p., 14 Mar. 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2017.

"LibGuides: Public Speaking - Oakland Campus: Types of Speeches." Types of Speeches - Public Speaking - Oakland Campus - LibGuides at University of Pittsburgh. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2017.

"Persuasive Speaking. The four types of audience." Moving People to Action. N.p., 15 Dec. 2016. Web. 22 Jan. 2017.

"Sample speech outline: an organizational template." Sample speech outline: an organizational template. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2017.