RU GSE Student Blog

A Student Perspective

A “Toast” To Public Speaking!


hmmm…what’s that? Well, let me tell you!

It’s fear of…

PUBLIC SPEAKING (dun, dun, duuuunnnnn)

We’ve all heard it before. Some people actually fear public speaking over DEATH! That just baffles my mind, but it’s actually true, according to some research studies.

Take this quick quiz to determine your public speaking fear level.

Here are the top 10 global fears according to 

1. Fear of public speaking or stage fright – Glossophobia
2. Fear of death and end of life – Necrophobia
3. Fear of spiders and other arachnids creatures – Arachnophobia
4. Fear of darkness and twilight – Achluophobia, Scotophobia or Myctophobia
5. Fear of heights, altitude or elevations – Acrophobia
6. Fear of people or social situations – Sociophobia
7. Fear of flying – Aerophobia
8. Fear of open spaces and squares – Agoraphobia
9. Fear of natural thunder and lightning – Brontophobia
10. Fear of confined spaces or small rooms – Claustrophobia

If public speaking is your number 1, 2, 3, 4 or even 5 fear, then continue reading…actually, continue reading anyway!

The problem for us is, my fellow graduate students. We have to publicly speak almost ALL THE TIME. Whether it’s a class presentation or workshop, teaching a class, facilitating a conference session or running a staff meeting, our place is (let’s face it) in front of the room.

One of my peers recently gave a workshop on public speaking (SHOUT OUT TO KYLE!!!!!) for our student leadership development class, and he introduced us to, which is an awesome resource for all things public speaking.

Take a look at these helpful tips when you’re planning for an upcoming speech. (courtesy of the Toastmaster!)

  • Don’t procrastinate!
  • Always look for a speech topic
  • Choose a topic you care about
  • Organize your speech in a logical sequence
  • Create an attention-grabbing opening
  • Rehearse!
  • Visualize success
  • Know your equipment needs
  • Familiarize yourself with the setting
  • Wear comfortable and professional-looking clothes
  • Concentrate on the message; not the audience
  • No matter how nervous you may feel, don’t tell the audience!
  • Use visuals and stories relevant to your topic
  • Speak clearly and audibly

Speech is not the only component of public speaking—it’s about the body, too!

You guessed it! The Toastmaster has something to say about this…

  • Start with eye contact Don’t just pass your gaze throughout the room; try to focus on individual listeners and createa bond with them by looking them directly in the eyes for five to 10 seconds.
  • Smile! (= 
  • Express emotion with your facial muscles
  • Avoid distracting mannerisms – have a friend watch as you practice and look for nervous expressions such as fidgeting, twitching, lip biting, key jingling, hands in pockets or behind the back.
  • Telling a story? Highlight the action verbs and look for ways to act out one or more parts.
  • Stay true to your personality Don’t copy gestures from a book or other speaker, but respond naturally.
  • Make gestures convincing Every hand gesture should be total body movement that starts from the shoulder – never from the elbow. Half-hearted gestures look artificial.
  • Vary your speaking position by moving from one spot on the stage to another. For example, walk to the other side of the stage as you move to a new topic or move toward the audience as you ask a question.

These tips are helpful, but let’s get deeper to the core of public speaking. It’s about finding your voice and the COURAGE  to express it…in front of an audience.

Even though I wouldn’t say I’m personally plagued by glassophobia, I definitely get nervous before I have to speak publicly.  I know I struggle with doubt over whether or not I am “expert” enough to talk about a given subject.

Having the confidence in yourself is sometimes the hardest part of giving a presentation or teaching a class. Don’t worry if you’re not the best public speaker in the world. This skill takes years of practice, and lots of mistakes. Focus on developing your own style, mustering up your own confidence, and finding your own voice.

Once you do, you may be really pleased with what you hear…

Whatever you do, just DON’T picture your audience in their underwear…that’s just gross!

May the “toast” be with you…



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