When preparing to speak in front of an audience, there are so many distractions. Do I look alright? Am I talking too fast? What was I supposed to say next? Am I moving my hands too much?

Adam Lowe presented at the Tucker and Benton units about key aspects to focus on when presenting, and they're not what you may think. Some of them are things we all overlook from time to time, too distracted by everything else running through our heads.

First, make sure your body language and emotions are matching what you're saying. This is important not only in presentations, but in day to day conversation. If you tell someone they look great today but say it in an angry or sarcastic voice, it's going to come off dishonest and even hurtful. However, if you say it with a smile and an upbeat tone in your voice, you're going to sound sincere and have a more positive interaction.

Second, make sure you observe your audience. If the people you're speaking to look confused, maybe you should slow down or explain a concept you might have glossed over. If their heads are drooping and they look like they're about to fall asleep, you may need to make your speech a little more exciting or relevant to them. The feedback you can get from an audience will help you tailor your speeches to capture and hold the attention of your audience, increasing your confidence and giving you more positive results. People are far more likely to listen to you and take your suggestions if you're keeping them engaged.

Lastly, make sure you listen. Whether that means listening to the other people in a conversation, or listening to feedback after a presentation, this can be the most important part of communication. If you don't listen, you can never learn or improve.

When in doubt of what to talk about, Adam suggests starting with your own story. Everyone can talk about themselves and their lives without doing research and memorizing a speech. Talking about yourself is a great place to start building your confidence, as well as making connections. Thanks, Adam!