Speak Courage: An IDS forum with Brother Spencer Haacke on public speaking

Brother Spencer Haacke, a professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho and the director of the Presentation Practice Center here on campus gave an informative forum on November 11th about how to give an effective presentation.  

He asserts that people public speak because they want to change the world. “If [you] want to do that, what [you] say should be pretty specific, pointed, and passionate.” He highlights three important parts of how to do this effectively: Preparation, Practice, and Presentation. 

Preparation - “To succeed as a presenter, you must think as a designer” 

As you prepare, you must think about who you will present to, what research you may use to support your topic, what your purpose is, and what theme to use as you design the presentation. Brother Haacke emphasizes the importance of balance when using visual aids. Use “short bullet points, appropriate pictures, and [each slide should] require a presenter.” Any visual aid you use should not be a distraction to the audience or detract from your message. Your passion for the subject will be more infectious if the audience can focus on your words, rather than an undesirable design on your slides. 

Practice - "Practice makes permanent"

“Write out your whole speech as if it’s perfect, and then read through it out loud a number of times, practice it. Then put it aside and try to give it. Anytime you get stuck and can’t remember what’s next, that’s where note cards come in to play.” Note cards can be used as a reminder of transitions, words, statistics, quotes, and main points of your presentation. 

Haacke says to practice the following specific things in your presentations: your tone/rate of speech, transitions, main points, introductions and conclusion, stories, and body language. He also encourages students to follow the thirty second rule. To increase confidence “get the first thirty seconds memorized and natural. [Then], by the time you [move] on, you are already in it! So, memorize the first thirty seconds, memorize the last thirty seconds because those are the two that are going to make the biggest impact.” 

Presentation - "Give a speech, change the world."

Brother Haacke and some students mentioned some simple ways to improve your presentation: Show up early and talk to people, be well rested and eat before, and imagine the presentation going well. “If you do the first two well, you’re prepared and you’ve practiced, your nerves should turn into excitement, because it’s the same chemistry.” 

Your dress is part of your speech design, Haacke says. You should always dress appropriately for the occasion and topic. A good rule of thumb for this I to dress just a little bit better than your audience. In today’s culture it is also important to consider zoom etiquette. Brother Haacke recommends the following: make sure there is good lighting set up and a professional angle; consider standing up for your presentation to heighten energy; keep eye contact with the audience; make sure you have a clean and clear background. 

"People public speak because they want to change the world."

Haacke encourages students to go to the Presentation Practice Center in the library: “This is a place on campus where you can come and practice. It’s a non-threatening environment…come and practice your presentation, anywhere from brainstorming all the way to polishing your presentation.” There are always ways that each of us can improve our public speaking. If you have a presentation coming up for any class, go to the Presentation Practice Center to get some help and encouragement.