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Public Speaking tips

  1. Oct 21, 2013 #1
    So I was forced by my principal to prepare a presentation for the morning assembly a few days from now (as a punishment :| ). Worst part is: The presentation has to be about a........Yo-yo -.-
    Specifically the physics behind bouncing a yo-yo up and down.
    I don't think i'm good at public speaking (especially in front of 200+ students).
    Any tips on public speaking or on the matter itself would be helpful.
    P.S: I read a few articles online talking about being confident, preparing...etc.
    Anything extra would be helpful.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2013 #2
    Oh yeah, I got tips: My back-hand use to suck. And so I began a routine of hitting the ball strictly with my back-hand for a while. My back-hand stopped sucking after a few weeks. And no my what, other hand didn't start neither. So that's it. I know plenty of people are intimidated by getting up to give a talk and the best way to fight this is to do it! And do it!, and do it! Even if your first few times are crummy. Later in life, when you get out of school and into a professional career, you'll likely have to give talks and if you've muscled-through them earlier, then you'll be prepared to do well when it really counts: when your job is on the line or at least impacted by it. So get in there, do your best, muscle-through it, fight like hell and just consider it practice for the day you're going to a job with a tie on, makin' the bucks, and havin' to give a talk. :)
  4. Oct 21, 2013 #3


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    Firstly, you don't bounce a yo-yo. So, definitely study up on those physics.

    Secondly, I was awful at public speaking, so I made a point to volunteer at every possible opportunity for it during college. This has turned out to be incredibly valuable; more so than much of my formal schooling. You're getting a head start. Embrace it.

    1. Know that you're supposed to be there - confidence comes from the lack of second guessing yourself
    2. Slow down, pause, think, don't rush, slow down, and slow down - seriously, the best time to take a break is when you DON'T need a break. Don't be afraid of silence if you're the one making it.
  5. Oct 21, 2013 #4
    One thing always that always works for me is caricaturing the audience in my mind...
    You are the only smart guy in the room, other intelligent entities don't exist.
    Narcissistic I suppose but works for me...think of them as tomatoes or something...
    Another weird thing I do is I never follow a script...I just figure out the topics I need to talk about and start babbling...
    Those aside practice your stuff in front of a mirror...and showing a live demo would be great- you could walk the dog in front of every one...
  6. Oct 21, 2013 #5


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    Most important is focusing on the people you're talking to instead of yourself. Sometimes you need to take that a step at a time.

    Get the focus off of you, first. Using visual aids can help with that. And I mean actually using the visual aids. If you're giving a PowerPoint presentation, actually pointing at the bullets as you talk about them with a pointer, etc. Since you're talking about a yo-yo, your selection of at least one visual aid should be obvious.

    Then work on focusing on the audience. Things like visual aids are good - especially when used well. It's very likely whatever tool you use to take the attention off of yourself will become a crutch - something you automatically go to even when it's not really appropriate. It's going to be easier to break your dependency on your crutch if you start looking at your audience to try to figure out who's getting it and who's not right away.

    And, of course, if you're like most people, at first you'll find yourself focusing on the few who really do get what you're saying (not to mention that you'll probably only be able to focus on people in the first few rows). It's a process and it takes time to really develop your speaking skills.
  7. Oct 21, 2013 #6
    It really just takes practice. At first you are nervous, but after you keep doing it you don't care anymore. I recently had to give a best man speech in front of a giant wedding. It was a bit nerve racking preparing, but I did the whole thing with no notecards or anything and many people came up afterwards and said it was one of the best best man toasts they've ever heard. Just be yourself. If you forget something, just move on. If you can't get over your nervousness, just look in the back over everyone's head and look at a door or something.
  8. Oct 21, 2013 #7


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    One thing that will help is a good attention step - something that will ensure you have the complete attention of everyone in the room. It's easier to look at people that are interested in you than people that are bored stiff.

    Just admit right off the bat that you're afraid of public speaking and, to help take your mind off your nervousness, you're folding two full match books together so that the matches of one book are right against the striking pad of the other book and that you're inserting them into your pocket. Now the fear of the yo-yo striking your pants leg and lighting two full books of matches in your pocket has you so terrified that you won't even think of being nervousness about speaking to 200+ people.

    Everyone will be on the edge of their seats, just waiting for your pants to go up in flames - and you won't even think about being nervous about the speaking part!
  9. Oct 21, 2013 #8
    If you're nervous, just think of them all as individual people. You could easily do a speech in front of one person. Well a room full of people are still just watching you individually. Your brain tricks you into thinking that the individuals being in a group matters, when it doesn't. We probably evolved to be nervous in front of a lot of people. Why? I have no idea. I don't even have a guess.
  10. Oct 21, 2013 #9

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    What in the world did you do with a yo-yo to deserve that as a punishment?

    While I am deadly curious, you don't have to answer that question.

    Are you good with a yo-yo? Can you do a number of tricks? If so, you have an easy out for this presentation. Bring your yo-yos!

    Talk about angular momentum and energy and friction. Show some tricks. Talk about the physics of each trick you are going to do, demonstrate the trick, then talk about the physics again. Speaking of tricks, what I just described is a very standard trick in public speaking:
    • Say what you're going to say.
    • Say it.
    • Say what you said.
    You have to employ this public speaking trick carefully. It will fail if you use it badly, or if you overuse it. You don't want your audience to think you are wasting their time.

    I think it will work well here. That "Say what you're going to say" part is a teaser, a brief introduction of the physics and of the yo-yo trick. The "Say it" part is the demonstration of the yo-yo trick. The "Say what you said" part is where you can go into the details of the physics, and while you're talking about the physics, you can repeat the trick, with variations.

    Develop an overarching theme for the talk. That's easy in this case. You already have an overarching theme: The physics of a yo-yo. Having an organized, structured talk will help you get over the rough spots. Just find your rhythm again, and continue.

    Have fun! That's one of the easiest way to get over public speaking anxiety. Do not view your audience as naked, or as a bunch of dolts. View them as smart people who are there because they want to hear what you have to say.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
  11. Oct 21, 2013 #10
    I used to find myself anxious while making a speech in front of many people. My hands all sweated and I got trembled then lost fluency in every statement I made.
    I later learned to speak English with rhythms. I tapped my lap while sitting with my pointing finger 1,2,3 for a short sentence (~5~10 words) I spoke up. Now in my native language, I can make almost all presentations without being nervous at all. But in English I am still a little shaky and would love to continue learning to get over me.
  12. Oct 22, 2013 #11
    D H... Before my physics class, i was playing with a yo-yo i bought the day earlier.when the teacher came in, i didn't stop right away...so obviously the teacher was pissed before he came to class and he put it out on me and sent me to the principal....the rest is obvious.
    Honestly, i don't know any tricks but i think i can learn a few simple ones.
    As for this thread, i hope i get more and more posts. And i appreciate every single 1
  13. Oct 22, 2013 #12
    The elevator's a pretty basic one and sufficiently cool, you could try that... walk the dog is a bit complicated and you will need the time for the actual presentation so best to avoid it...The most basic one whose physics you are going to deal with is the sleeper so concentrate on that ;)...you could try breakaway or loop if elevator doesn't work out...
    Check out a few vids on youtube...
    And be sure you get the physics right.
    If you have got time throw in a few factoids like- yo-yo means come-come :biggrin:(snigger-snigger)
    - this might be helpful...

    Edit:You may want to start it like so:
    Good Morning this and that blah blah(-depending on whose watching teachers, principal etc.).
    Yo People! (looking at your mates) Yo-yo to be exact (insert trick here- break away perhaps?)...blah blah
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  14. Oct 22, 2013 #13


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    A few more tips of the more mundane variety:
    -have your bladder empty and your stomach full
    -find something to occupy your hands. A pointer will do, if there's much pointing that can be done. If you've got a podium, keep your hands firmly planted on it. Don't hold them in your pockets and don't fiddle with them.
    -if you have trouble remembering what you ought to say, write yourself a short outline on a single piece of paper and keep it before you during speech. Or better yet, use a mnemonic technique like the Memory Palace or a "story".
    -rehearse to see if you're good with the time constraints. If you find out you tend to finish too soon, have some extra material to add as needed. If you tend to be out of time, identify less important stuff to leave out if necessary. Or just alter your speaking tempo.
    -identify the interested and kind faces in the audience. There's bound to be at least a few - these are the people you should imagine you're speaking to. It helps immensely to feel you're being appreciated for your work as you speak.
    -learn the subject you're going to present well. People can instinctivelly sense a lack of confidence in the speaker and will react with loss of interest. If you appear to know the subject inside-out, you'll feel confident and knowledgeable, and the audience will listen as if enchanted.
  15. Oct 22, 2013 #14


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    If you can't master a trick or two in time for your speech, can you ask a friend to demonstrate while you're speaking? This takes attention off of you, which might help you to relax.

    Using a video would have the same effect.
  16. Oct 22, 2013 #15


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    Your audience are peers. Just go out, engage them and entertain them, or ask them to bear with you in your punishment for it won't take long.

    Explain that you are being used as an example, that this will happen to them if they transgress, fail to heed the teacher, fail to cease and desist and stow the yo-yo in an appropriate time and manner.

    Be contrite and express regret.

    Ask oneself, what would George Carlin do.

    For effective public speaking, be prepared, be interesting, know the subject.

    Do some research on yo-yos

    A Physicist’s Take On The Yo-Yo As It Celebrates 75 Years (in 2013, it's 84 years)

    "To a physicist, a yo-yo is a remarkably fun example of a flywheel."

    https://www.yo-yo.com/images/forms-catalogs/yo_yo_big.pdf [Broken]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yo-y [Broken]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_F._Duncan,_Sr [Broken].

    Personally, I prefer Frisbees.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  17. Oct 22, 2013 #16


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    That old advice about picturing your audience in their underwear never worked for me. I'm terrified of semi clad people.
  18. Oct 23, 2013 #17

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    That makes no sense to me, either. That's a passive-aggressive way of looking at public speaking. It seems to be viewing everyone in the room as the speaker's enemy, so it's best that they're unarmed and defenseless. That passive-aggressive point of view will come across in the presentation. It does not make for a good presentation.
  19. Oct 23, 2013 #18
    The British comedian Jimmy Carr briefly touched upon that. As part of his stand-up routine, once, he revealed two rules to be confident:
    1. Imagine your audience members naked.
    2. Don't tell your audience members that you're imagining them naked.

    He then proceeded to stare lasciviously at a group of females. His advice is to also refrain from this tactic while addressing a kindergarten class.

    He's an interesting guy.
  20. Oct 23, 2013 #19
    More on topic: You say that you don't think of yourself as a particularly good public speaker, but does this mean that you're afraid of public speaking, or simply that you don't think you do a very good job?

    I've never had much difficulty with speaking in front of peers simply because I've never let myself go into a presentation ill-prepared. I've found that speech flows naturally in two particular cases: When I'm angry, and when I'm confident. That confidence usually arises from my supposed, self-proclaimed competence in whatever it is I'm discussing.
  21. Oct 23, 2013 #20
    I think i would piss off the principal with such statement (we're not on very good terms :| )
    As for the rest, it was helpful like all the other posts so thank you all! :)
    Again, i hope to keep this thread as alive as possible cause the more help the better.
  22. Oct 23, 2013 #21
    I think a combination of both, but more afraid > not doing a good job.
    And that is why i opened this thread; to deal with every detail of yo-yo as i can...that would boost my confidence i guess.
  23. Oct 23, 2013 #22

    That shouldn't piss him off. That's a way to get the attention in a 'positive' way. If it does piss him off, explain him what you were trying to do i.e. give as good a presentation/talk as possible.
  24. Oct 25, 2013 #23
    The explanation later..im okay with it. just her* reaction on the spot is what im afraid of.
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