Every student, from elementary school through college (and beyond) will have to give a presentation in front of a group one time or another. Doing so can cause a great deal of anxiety for most students. Few "how to study" publications address this issue. There is good news. Students can learn to effectively speak in front of groups by following a few important guidelines. Here are some TIPS that students can use to help when required to give a presentation.

  • Since standing in front of a group is not a normal activity, experiencing some butterflies is normal.  The best guidance is self-talk. Tell yourself, "I am a bit nervous, but I will not allow the nerves to control me. I can and will do this!"

  • Prepare!! The better prepared you are the more confident you will be. Rehearse in front of family and/or friends. Be open to constructive criticism.

  • Mental and physical tricks. Mentally prepare by visualizing yourself in front of the group delivering your presentation. Before your presentation, take a few deep breaths. Relax your body...limber up your shoulders, legs and feet by gently moving, tensing then relaxing. Place your hands together and lay them on your lap. gently squeeze the right thumb of your right hand against the palm of your left hand. Doing this you are massaging the ulna point closest to your heart via the circulatory system, helping to calm the nerves.

  • When doing the presentation, initially focus on only one or two persons. Why? Because normally we speak to only one or a few, so speaking to many is not a normal experience for our brains. So, in a way, by focusing on one or a few, you are tricking your brain. Then, as you become more comfortable, begin looking around at your audience. If you note one or more persons not paying attention, it can be distracting. Ignore them! They are probably worried about their own presentation. Avoid making distracting noises you may be tempted to do, such as jingling coins or other items in your pocket, or fidgeting.  Some speakers will us a smooth object held in one hand and lightly rubbed to help calm nerves. Avoid repetitive sounds such as "uh", "you know ", and"like".

  • Mistakes will happen. Do not let flubs throw you off! In fact, often the audience will not even pick up on it. If it is obvious, just shrug it off, or even laugh about it. The more relaxed you are, the more your audience will be as well.

  • An excellent book to improve presentation and public speaking skills is "Public Speaking Secrets...52 Proven Ways to Increase Your Impact Every Time You Speak", by Dr. Michael Hudson. Dr. Hudson provides support to Delaware 4-H students. Below are a few clips of 4-H state-wide first place winners. If they can do it, so can you.

  • In the first clip, 14 year old Melanie speaks about "Failure to Success". She uses real life examples of how three well-known persons used the will to persevere to overcome setbacks and disappointments to achieve success in life. 





In this clip a 9 year old Evelyn tells her audience "What is Smarter, a Dog or a Cat?" This is an example of a subject that helps answer a question often debated by pet owners. Evelyn provides some interesting facts in a light-hearted and humerus manner that will keep her audience interested regardless if they prefer one pet over the other.

In the next clip 17 year old Madison Crossley provides a compelling argument on a subject often debated..."Violence in the Media, Harmful or Not?" Madison did a significant amount of research on the subject, which helped provide her confidence and empower her speech.