Posted in Intern advice, Written by Maddie

A guide to learning how to do public speaking

Makes you shiver just at the thought of it!

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Public speaking is a fear most people have, and it is perfectly normal! It take a lot to present your ideas and views in front of a crowd, especially when we are talking about assessed presentations in university or work related public speaking where your statements do matter!

At the same time, public speaking is also one of those basic transferable skills employers are looking for. Either for a job or if you are pursuing a Master or PhD, stages in your career progression will depend on you captivating the audience through your speech and delivering a good presentation.

How do you make sure you have this skill fully mastered right from the start? Through personal experience and through noticing other people develop, I can say that’s a bit of a challenging one, but I am almost certain that through practice and patience you can learn to get rid of those nerves and nail your speech every time, no matter how impossible that though might sound now.

Knowing that myself was there at one point and that I managed to challenge my fears and be comfortable with public speaking, here is a guide on how to get you started working on this skill:

  1. Let’s start with an easy one- ask yourself why you don’t like to speak in public

More often than not you will realise that those reasons are not as logical as you might have though. When I first thought about improving my public speaking skills, I know I was afraid of starting because I thought people would judge me. On what? I had no clue but I knew people judge and I was terrified of that. When I delivered my first speech I realised things are not quite like I thought they were. On the contrary, most of the time people do listen to what you have to say, and even give you constructive feedback. Worst comes to worst they would just look at their phone and not even pay attention at what you’re saying, so no worries! Just go out there and give it a try!

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  1. Now that you have that sorted, try to put yourself in situations where you know you will have to speak in front of a crowd.

Start small by joining a society and taking the lead on a project, do a presentation in class, sign up for some short time courses. Anything works, as long as it gives you the chance to go out of your comfort zone, while you are still in a safe space where you can make mistakes and learn from them. And never be afraid to ask for help! Either from a friend or family member, or from people that you know are really good a public speaking, ask them for tips, advice, ideas on how you can do better, ask them how do they get over their fears. You will find that you can translate their practices to your own experience and just learn through trial and error.

  1. And finally make it a habit!

This is the challenging part. Now that you’ve tried public speaking once or twice and you are a bit more comfortable with being on the spotlight, try to do it as often as possible. Join a society that has public speaking as one of their main activities. Debating Society and Model United Nations are amazing opportunities for you to enhance your skills while also discussing fun topics and keeping up with what’s happening in the world. Take on an opportunity where you teach a subject or train a group of individuals. The PASS programme here at 301 is a particularly good scheme in this sense and you can check everything about it here:https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/peerlearning/pass

These are just some suggestions but with an SU as active as ours I am sure there are plenty more opportunities for you to discover.

And here you have it! A guide on how to start working on being an incredible public speaker. As a closing thought, I can attest it’s not something that happens overnight, but it is definitely worth the effort so good luck and don’t forget that 301 has a workshop on ‘Presentation skills’ that can give you a good starting point! You can check it out here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/services/workshops

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Author:

We are 301 Student Skills and Development Centre and we give academic skills advice to our students at the University of Sheffield. We offer workshops and 1:1 appointments.

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