Author: Andrew Leong – 2017 Accounting
Year course was taken: 2013S
Final letter grade obtained in course: A-
Public speaking in particular is a very common phobia. Especially for those who don’t have a lot
of experience, or are naturally introverted, it can become very difficult. Speaking publically,
whether to a class or to a large audience, is a very daunting task. Listed below are five tips for
those who might struggle with this skill:
1. Practice in front of a mirror!
You’ll be amazed at how practicing in front of a mirror allows you to pick up bad habits or
unnecessary movements. Body language, when planned and executed well, can be used to aid a
presentation. Don’t cross your legs, and maintain a strong, not slouched pose. Practicing in front
of a mirror can also help you to envision the space you’ll be using during the presentation. Don’t
forget to smile and make eye contact!
2. Pace yourself!
Taking those first few steps up to the podium is when my nerves tend to kick in. A tip I use to
combat this is to speak at a slow pace and louder than I would. This allows me to collect my
thoughts, maintain a calm composure, and speak more articulately. When I’m nervous, my words
tend to be unintelligible and sped up. Being prepared and confident helps as well; more
repetitions of my speeches reinforces to myself that I am competent and capable of delivering a
3. Keep your presentations simple and to the point!
Try not to make your presentations too sophisticated or consisting of slides laden with huge
boxes of text. I always like to summarize my presentations in three points, simple points that the
audience can take home with them. A tip I used for my presentations was to plan the presentation
out like a paragraph; a hook / introduction, supporting details, and a conclusion. I find graphics,
visuals, and images were more impactful than bullets in these scenarios. For those who rarely use
humour or jokes, I would stick to a more concrete, linear structure as I have mentioned.
4. Practice everywhere, even try recording!
As in any other skill, practice and experience are essential for competency. There is no doubt that
mistakes will be made when speaking in public. However, you must learn, correct, and avoid the
mistakes for the future. Anxiety issues will be reduced if you anticipate and prepare properly for
the presentation. Impactful ways of practicing include recording yourself with a phone, and
practicing in front of friends. You can also catch and cleanup areas of your presentations,
including speech clarity, pronunciation, and eye contact.
5. Pick a topic that you are passionate about!
Go with what you know, and pick a topic that best represents your personal experiences. Topic
choice is critical in preventing anxiety. You have to be knowledgeable about the subject in order
to speak and develop credibility with the audience. For instance, topics that I would be familiar
with include sports, and local tourism. However, I probably would give a terrible speech
regarding the latest trends in fashion. With familiar topics and subjects, drafting a script for
memorization is no longer a necessity; I could talk about hockey for hours!
After reviewing my earlier presentations in the course, my personal lack of experience with
regards to presentations was evident. However, after doing multiple presentations and practicing,
I found that I became more competent with my material with more exposure. These tips were
thoughts that I had that helped me to become a better public speaker. Learning to remain cool,
calm, and collected during presentations comes with practice and competency!