Ask a Professor – Public speaking

Question: What are some strategies or techniques students and employees can work on outside of a speech class to enhance their speaking skills?

Answer: Julie Perez, speech faculty:

1. Join Toastmasters International club. Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization that focuses on developing its members’ public speaking skills through practice and feedback.

2. Become a member of an organization, club or church group that works toward a common goal. Volunteer to be an officer or assume a leadership position that requires you to speak to the membership.

3. Do volunteer work or enroll in service learning and find an agency, school or non-profit organization that requires you to speak to small groups. For example, teaching or tutoring a group of children, giving a guided tour, promoting or publicizing an event, etc.

All these suggestions boil down to getting out of your comfort zone and forcing yourself to take psychological risks. Public speaking is difficult because it is not a skill we use very often. So the key to becoming an effective public speaker is to speak publicly as often as possible and spend a lot of time preparing.

One speech expert says you should spend two hours preparing for every one minute you speak.

Do you have a question a professor can answer? Students and employees can email [email protected].