By: Joyce S. 

This school year I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at a conference with my school’s club about the importance of drug-prevention in high school. It was an amazing experience! As a relatively shy person, I was surprised that when I gave this presentation, it wasn’t nearly as frightening as I thought it would be. Here are few suggestions that helped me. 
  • Be Flexible 
 When I spoke at the conference, my group and I were expecting over 20   guests to come to our session. But, when were ready to begin; we only saw one man out in the audience. Luckily, about four more stragglers ended up arriving at our session, but the turnout was largely underwhelming, and worst of all, most of our activities depended on there being a large audience. But, the show must go on! It didn’t matter how many (or how few) people we were presenting to, because we figured out how to make it work. We made a few adjustments to our activities and the conference went on without a hitch. Be prepared to handle anything that comes your way, because at the end of the day you’re the boss! 
  • Prepare 
Make sure you know your material! Don’t just memorize it, but really know what you’re talking about. People who have a general knowledge of their topic can easily speak in a calm, relaxed manner. 

  • Be Passionate 
Whether you’re discussing your favorite thing in the whole world or the stock market, make sure you appear passionate to your audience members. For me, the easiest parts of my presentation included personal anecdotes, because I believe that sharing your own personal experiences is the easiest way to connect to another person. 
  • Lose Your Personality 
When presenting any topic, the most important part is you! When you don’t share your personality with the audience it becomes more difficult to relate to them. This is an easy way to lose your audience’s attention. 

  • Read Your Audience to Sleep 
Do your best to absorb as much information as you can, because reading your presentation out loud is never good. If you can’t memorize your speech, frequently look up and make eye contact. Eye contact is an easy way to bring your presentation to the next level. If you are not comfortable making eye contact, find empty spaces in the audience to look at. Engage your audience by being engaging yourself. 

  • Be Scared to Move 
When speaking in front of a crowd it’s often difficult to know what to do with your body. Do your best to make hand gestures, and don’t be scared to use the space given to you, because taking a few steps in front of you or beside you can help stop or hide fidgeting. 

Presentations are not the horrible monster that you may think they are! If you know your stuff (or at least pretend like you do), you can let your instincts take over. When I spoke at the conference, my group had to speak for about three hours and we only had one week of preparation.  If I’m being perfectly honest, we winged about 50 % of our presentation, but it went very smoothly. It was then that I learned that the key to any good presentation is giving the audience something that they can only get from you, your unique perspective. The next time you have to speak in public, remember that this is your time to share what you know in your own special way. 

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