Whether you’re trying to flaunt your knowledge in classes, or just trying to impress a crush, speech is crucial in our day-to-day lives. Sometimes, we try to make ourselves sound better than we are, and while it works for the short-term, honing your speech skills can benefit you academically, professionally, and even socially. If that’s something you think you need, listen up. Class is in session.
These “filler words” find their way into our speech without us having to think about it. Often, they drag out conversations longer than needed. To older generations, they make us sound unprofessional and perhaps immature to some.
When going for an interview, negotiating with business partners, or even when talking to a potential love interest, you want to look and sound your best. While we usually correlate public speaking with speeches and presentations, the ideas and techniques behind it can be used for everyday speech.
So, whether you’re trying to score that big promotion or trying to sound intellectual, we have some tips for you to help make that a reality soon to be yours.
It’s natural to find comfort in speaking louder or quieter than usual. Those who are naturally outgoing tend to have a louder speaking voice, while those who are reserved keep to themselves. To master the art of public speaking, you have to find a happy medium between the two.
Unfortunately, you can’t just find a level that works and stick with it. Your volume should be based on your surroundings, like a quiet office versus a crowded bar and loud enough that only the people you want to listen to will hear you — not everyone at the Rat wants to hear about your nightly escapades and adventures.
Sometimes, we want to blurt out a thought as quickly as possible so we don’t forget to mention it later. However, it’s worth waiting to let someone finish a thought, as you may think of a more productive response to continue the conversation rather than cutting them off immediately. Listen as maturely as you speak and hold those intrusive thoughts.
What also falls into this category is the speed at which you talk. Speaking too fast makes it hard for others to understand what you’re saying, and can be especially problematic when giving a speech or a presentation, as your facts can get caught up in the rush. Sal Puma, sophomore computer science major, is taking a public speaking class here at the University of Miami.
Puma said that after taking the class he “started to be more conscious of [his] tone and slow down.”
Another thing to keep in mind when talking the point of what you have to say. When telling a story or giving a presentation, everything you say needs to be relevant.
Valerie Giroux, who is teaching a public speaking class at UM, uses her years of teaching experience to help students work on their speech for jobs and even other classes.
“When you drown [a presentation] out with boring slides, it loses its impact,” said Giroux. “Make what you’re talking about relate[s] to your audience.”
Focus on what needs to be said such as important facts and details, as those give what you’re saying a reason to be said. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take diversions here and there for tangents and other factoids, but don’t lose your way. Once you lose your listeners, it’s hard to reel them back in, so keep them engaged with relevant and important information.
When meeting new people or addressing a crowd, confidence is key. It is a crucial element to help you garner respect from who you’re talking to, whether it’s a class listening to your presentation, or someone you met at a bar.
Granted, confidence is not the easiest to build up, especially for the public speaking averse. A great way to start is to practice before hand by yourself, or even to friends to get out the first time jitters.
Celia Lynn, a public relations major who is in the same public speaking class as Sal Puma, praises what the class has done for her own speech on a daily basis.
“Even though I have always been a confident speaker, this class forces me to speak formally more often. I feel I have become more confident answering questions in other classes now that I am in this class,” said Lynn.
“I think it’s a valuable tool for everyone, regardless your major,” said Puma. “At some point you’re going to need to talk to a boss or present something to your team, and a class like this gives you the basics for that.”
While these tips will help you sound more mature, there is such a thing as going overboard. If you’re too conscious of all of these different aspects, it starts to sounds off — like an exaggerated character you would find in some corny commercial.
Giroux said “not to have a canned presentation. Like something [you’ve] done many times.”
Practice is important, and it helps boost your confidence, but there is a sense of flow you need to achieve when talking. Wanting to know everything you’re going to say is great, but you have to take it to a higher level — know your points well enough that you can add some personality without messing up.
Plus, people truly care about the meaning behind speaking, less about the presentation.
“Communication is sender, receiver, hopefully your personality is coming through,” said Giroux.
Whether it’s a funny conversation you had with someone in an elevator, or how you eloquently explained your viewpoint in class, putting your personality into whatever you’re saying can make people remember you.
words_amanda mohamad. design_isa márquez.
This article was published in Distraction’s Winter 2022 print issue.