University of Hawai'i Maui Community College Speech Department

Speakers' Advice to Speakers

The following responses are from Public Speakers after completing a Speech Class with Ron St. John. The Public Speakers offered their advice to future Speech students, and to all who want to improve as Public Speakers. A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to all of the Public Speakers who offered their advice so that others may improve as Public Speakers. Due to the overwhelming response from the Public Speakers to offer advice to other Speakers I will amend and update the list in an attempt to include all of your responses on a rotating basis. I appreciate your efforts and I know that these comments will help others improve, as WE all have improved throughout the semester. This page is a tribute to your improvement, so that you may continue your success as Public Speakers, and so that others may follow in your "podium-steps."


Public Speakers were asked:
"Knowing what you know now, how would you improve your public speaking skills, and what would you tell others so that they can improve their speaking skills?"

Public Speakers' Advice to Public Speakers:

I think the biggest advice I can give is to be prepared. Don't wait till the last minute to write or practice your speech. Also when other people are giving their speeches be attentive. You can learn a lot by watching others speak. The things that I have done to improve has been giving speeches. Each speech that I gave I improved from the last one. You need to realize that public speaking is not easy, but with practice you can and will improve. --Jon

If I were giving advice on how to improve at public speaking, I'd say get to know your classmates. It makes speaking easier. Speak in a conversational tone, and use lots of examples that you won't need to read from your cards. It improves your speech 100%. Also, practice a whole lot before giving a speech. Don't use your outline or cards as a crutch. Try hard to use gestures from the very beginning. It takes practice. Anonymous

Knowing what I know now, I would have improved my public speaking by getting my outlines done earlier, creating better introductions, and being more enthusiastic during my presentations. I think that if my outlines would have been ready for evaluation even ahead of the due date, my final draft would have been exponentially better with more revisions of revisions. I also learned that one of the keys to a good audience reaction is a good intro, if you get them hooked initially, they'll stay for the ride no matter how bad it is after the first five sentences. Finally, it took me until the MSP [second to last] speech to figure it out, but if you act like you're having fun and you know what the heck you're talking about, people will listen, even if you're talking about boring stuff. ---Kai

Hey, Knowing what I know now, I would of practiced my speeches more and remembered that I should not be nervous because my audience is nervous for me. NICOLE

What would I do to improve my public speaking? Simple: Practice, and be aware of myself at all times during the speech. By practicing my Informative speech with [visual aids], I could have avoided that embarrassing little time snafu. Also, my problems are a high rate of speech, as well as constantly changing position behind the podium, as well as poor hand gestures/position. If I would practice these speeches WITH A PODIUM, I would feel a lot more comfortable speaking behind one, and thus would hopefully improve upon my aforementioned problems. Mark

I think one of the things that has helped me the most in public speaking is learning to have confidence in myself. And after I got to know everyone in the class, it got even easier to be confident. I think that it is very important for people to get to know each other in class and to become a team :) ---Lei

The only advice that I can think of is to make sure that a student would adequately prepare for everything. We've said it plenty of times in the class room, "If you don't prepare, you're only preparing to fail." That phrase speaks the truth. For my first speech, I didn't prepare as well as I should have and my performance indicated that. With every speech after that, my preparation techniques got better and more thorough. The result was in my presentations and grades. Other advice for future students would be to find some type of stress relieving activity to do before any speech. They need to find some way to get rid of their nervous energy so that their message can be heard with clarity. Any form of exercise will do or just some relaxing time doing nothing, whatever suits their needs. Sincerely, Steve

Knowing what I know now about preparing for and giving speeches, I could give advice to people who will be entering speech classes next semester or anywhere in the future, or to anyone giving a speech for any class. I have come to realize that preparation is the key to any speech of any kind. A person could be the most excellent speech giver, but if that person is unprepared, the speech will not be as good as it could be. Gathering information that backs up the points you wish you make is the key. Using statistics and giving scenarios or examples to emphasize your key ideas aids greatly in giving a speech. I have also found that practicing a lot before giving the speech will benefit also. If you don't practice, you will end up looking at your note cards a lot. Doing this not only makes you looked unprepared, but it also keeps you from using more hand gestures and being able to speak to the audience in a conversational tone. The formats we learned for giving informative and persuasive speeches also helped me a lot. They were great outlines for how to organize a speech so that it flows well and the key points are remembered by the audience. One thing I have personally come to find out that aids me when I am giving a speech is to stand up in front of your audience for a few minutes before beginning the speech. This helps me to become more comfortable with being up in front of everyone and helps me to relax before beginning. Several other people have told me this helps them as well. Knowing what I know now about public speaking, I feel well prepared to give any kind of speech or presentation in any class or any situation outside of class. I truly feel more confident about my speaking abilities. Hopefully I can pass this on to others if they need my help or ask my advice. The one thing that will forever be stuck in my mind as I continue on in life are those five little words--I am a public speaker. LeeAnn

The first thing I would tell myself and anyone else taking the class, is to get over the fear and nervousness. When you're that tense, everything from your eye contact to your posture is hard to do. Find a relaxation technique for your first speech instead of much later in the semester. My other piece of advice would be prepare and practice. It is extremely important to know the information you are presenting. If you do, you won't be worried about stumbling or losing your place. You can skim your note card and sort of wing it if you miss a part. If you don't know the speech, it will be obvious and you can't afford to lose your place. Practicing is just as important as preparing. Just because you know the information, you have to practice to get comfortable and make sure the speech flows. It might not sound the way it looks on paper. Practicing also allows you to start using any visuals or gestures that you might use in the speech. Scott

If I knew at the beginning of this semester what I know now, I would have done things a lot differently. For starters, I wouldn't have been as nervous, after all we are all public speakers. Seriously though, I would have put a lot more effort and preparation into my first few speeches. I simply didn't practice enough or correctly. At first, I thought oh well I will just get up there and read off of my notes and then I will be done. That just won't work though. The speech should be well thought out and practiced until the speaker knows what he or she will say exactly. I also found out that practicing in front of a mirror or a group of friends really helps. But above all I would have practiced, practiced, practiced. ---Brandy

Q: What advice would I give myself or any other student at the beginning of this course?
A: I would say that the speeches are not a torture for you to endure. They are a medium that you can use to get any point you would like to out to a nonthreatining audience. The best part is that the class is to assist you in the development of public speaking skills. Also the first mental state you must set your self in from day one is that you are a public speaker and all this class is for is to fine tune your skills. If you realize this plus you relax, write and deliver your speeches with compassion then all your speeches will be masterpieces. ---Daniel

There are so many things I wish I would have known before taking speech class, but I'll just name a few things. First of all how important it is to be excited about your topic. If you don't care then it will reflect on your speech. I also wish I would have been more excited about the class, but having senioritis did not help that at all. Practicing giving your speech is important too and I don't think I realized that until half way into the semester. Practice helps you be more confident. Although you won't always know your audience when speaking, it's really nice when you can feel close to your audience and know that they are going to care about what you have to say. As our class got to know each other better, we had more respect for each person speaking this made a difference in our speeches I think. Anyway that's what I sort of think about the whole speech class experience. Karsee

I would have to say that the single most thing you can do to succeed in this class is prepare. If you prepare for every speech and give yourself a fair amount of time to go over it you will have no worries. Also another thing you can do is not get worked up about the little things that happen during a speech. If you stumble on a word or forget a sentence its no big deal, just go on and finish the best you can, it happens to everyone at sometime or another. Learn to roll with the punches and you will do fine. Good luck. Will.

Knowing what I know now, I think the one thing that I would have done is prepare more. In all of the speeches that I gave, I believe that more preparation would have made them all much better. I always meant to practice my speech in front of an audience before I gave the speech in class, but I never did, and I really regret that. I believe that would have been very beneficial. More preparation would have made me more relaxed when I gave my speeches, and it would have also made my speeches more interesting because it would have given me more time to be creative instead of having to come up with something at the last minute. So, my advice would definitely be PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!!!!! You can never prepare too much! --Nick

Advice for all you speech students/Public Speakers: preparation is the key to success in this class. I found this out first hand, when I didn't prepare enough or early enough and ended up getting a grade a didn't really want. If there's one thing I've learned, it's this: by failing to prepare, you prepare to fail. But don't think you can't have fun in this class. If you come up with some cheers to give each other before the speeches, it is pretty cool. I know a lot of people get nervous before speeches, but if you prepare ahead of time and keep a positive, confident attitude, this will be a fun/valuable learning experience. --Jeff

I guess my advice would be to prepare ahead. Always do speeches on topics you are familiar with and things you like. I would also say that you can never practice a speech to much. Do it over and over again. It also helps to do it front of people so that they can critique you. This class requires a lot of work so budget your time and schedule your speeches on days that you know you can get a lot of practice in before the real thing. Also always remember to RELAX. --Kari

The advice I would give someone beginning a speech class would be the method of preparation. When I started out in the class I memorized speeches. I did this in high school also. Through the class I learned that it is much better for the presentation and it is also easier to know the material you are speaking about rather than trying to memorize words. In a sentence my advice would be "in giving a speech, memorize the ideas you have come up with rather than the words you have brought together." --Tim

Knowing at the beginning of the course in January what I know now, there is one thing that I would have done differently. The key word here is is preparation. Ron will stress this at the beginning of the semester. Take it very seriously. I always felt for each and every speech, except maybe the impromptus that I was well-prepared. However, when I am in front of the class delivering my speech I tend to get distracted, whether by certain inattentive members of the audience or for whatever reason. This distraction would cause me to lose my train of thought and that is when my eyes are drawn back down to my outline. So, however prepared I felt before I went in to give my speech, I usually found that I could have been more prepared by knowing the sequence of main points better in my head, so that I could move from point to point without being distracted. I suggest to any new members that will take speech that you should practice until you are absolutely positive that your speech is the best it can be... and to constantly run through the sequence of the speech in your head until you know it like the back of your hand. Good Luck and remember: Preparation is everything. --Amy

There are several things that incoming students should take advice about. One, the constant reminder that they ARE PUBLIC SPEAKERS!!! Also, the idea that the class is a team. I have never had an instructor approach a class in that way. It did make me feel like I was part of a team and that the class did want me to succeed. This helped a great deal whenever I would get nervous. I also think that the visualization is good. It made me believe I was going to give a good speech. One last thing that I think the students should have the privilege of, is the roaring cheers before each speech. Although funny at times,they did help me relax before I began my speech. --Andrew

I would have to say, the one thing I would pass on to those who are going to be taking this class in the future, is to use whatever aspect of your personality you can to make you a better public speaker. I know for myself, I am an extremely outgoing and lively person in all casual settings, thus I had to allow that same dominant part of my personality show through in order to make my presentations more readily received. Also, preparation is key. The job you do is so much better when you have practiced and fully prepared for the preparation. Partial preparation will not cut it, it will be shown in your presentation. Correspondingly, listen to the advice and tips that your teacher or professor gives you. He or she has been at this for much longer than you have and havelearned the ins and outs for becoming a better public speaker. Try to relax as much as possible before presenting, I know when you are standing there and a sea of people are staring blankly at you, your nerves begin to run rampant, but think of it as having a conversation with several different people at once. -Triston

What would I have changed in the beginning of the semester with the skills I now know? I would have been more confident about my speeches. I have also learned that eye contact is the key! I didn't learn that from my own speeches, but by watching others. My advice to someone taking this class would be to jump right into it. Don't be scared about having to get up in front of the class. That is the worst thing you can do. The only reason you should be nervous is if you are unprepared. Practice is a must. If you don't know your speech, it will show. If you do know it, you will have much better eye contact and eye contact shows confidence in what you are saying. I have learned a great deal from this class and I know I will have to use it some time in my life. Andrea

This is my advice to incoming students. Don't think that you are not going to do well in the class because you've had difficulty in the past with public speaking. The class is an excellent opportunity to enhance your public speaking skills. YOU ARE A PUBLIC SPEAKER!!!! Good luck in all you do. Jennifer

I guess one thing that I would tell people who were to enroll in this class would be to come in with an open mind. I had a speech course last year in high school and I thought there was nothing more to learn. I guess I have learned a little more than I expected this semester. Last year I did not have to prepare as much as I did this year. Last year my teacher liked me so no matter how I did I always got an "A." I'm not saying I wanted that to happen, but that was the way he was with the students he liked. I still learned from him, but I did not have to try as hard as others. This semester I learned that better preparation is very helpful in not making you so nervous. If you know what to say when you get up there then things like eye contact and hand gestures come more easily. I just wish I would have prepared more in the beginning because I was capable of getting an "A" when instead I am barely getting a "B." Thank You for helping me realize there was still some things I needed to learn. Sincerely, Rhea

Now that the semester is over, if I could look back I would have told myself a few things. First, practice your speech to no end. A speaker who has his speech down will feel less nervous than an unprepared speaker. Next, memorize the outline format for making speeches early. It will be used throughout the semester, and will be tested on. So take the extra time early in the semester to memorize it. Finally, make sure to videotape your speeches and review them afterwards. Make note of how you felt, what you thought went well, and what you can improve on. Reviewing your speech also helps to improve tone, voice rate, and posture. --Zack

The adivce that I would give a student taking a speech class next year would be to always prepare for your speeches, and not to worry when you're giving your speech. It doesn't help at all to be nervous while giving your speech. If you're prepared it shouldn't be a problem. Another thing would be not to worry about the impromtus either. Those I think were some of the best speeches that I gave the entire semester. The key is to just to be confident about what you're saying even if you don't know what you're talking about. If you're confident then they won't know that you don't have any idea what you're talking about. Overall, I would say don't worry too much about talking in front of a group. I didn't like to do it either before I got into the class, but afterwards I felt much better about giving a speech. The only thing that you really need to do is prepare well and be confident about what you're speaking on. That's about all I can offer in the way of advice. One last thing I have to say is good luck, and remember, you are a PUBLIC SPEAKER! ---John S.

What do you think?
Do you have any questions, comments, concerns, opinions, or speaking tips of your own, that you would like to share? If so, contact me, Ron St. John, with your feedback. I will get back to you as soon as possible. Be sure to state the title or subject matter, so I know to what material you are referring. Thank you for visiting the Public Speakers' Sites!

The Public Speakers' Resources
|Public Speakers' Page | Speech 151 | Speech 251 | Public Speaking Resources|
|Supporting Your Speech | Sample Speeches | Speech Practice | Speaking Tips|
|Speech Anxiety | Team Presentations | Group Communication | Interviewing|
|Using Visual Aids | ESL Links | Anonymous Feedback | Ron St. John|
|The Learning Center | MCC Library | Maui Language Institute|
|Distance Education Academic Support Services|
|The Ho'oulu OnLine (Student Newspaper)|
|The University of Hawai'i at Manoa|

Page Designer: Ron St. John
Copyright 2002 - Ka Leo Kumu
Last Revised: January 16, 2002