Tackling presentations and public speaking

Don't be daunted by the sea of faces, pick one friendly face to focus on. Source: Neonbrand (via: Unsplash)

By Millie Moxey

Presentations and public speaking are something most of us will have to tackle at some point in our university career. If you’re like me, you’ll try to dodge the modules that even mention the word ‘presentation’ in the module outline. However, it is likely that later on in life you will have to perform a speech in front of your peers. Thankfully, there a few things you can do to make this a little easier.

Perhaps the most obvious, and most important tip, is to practice and prepare. As with everything, the more you practice the better you’re going to get. Start by becoming a complete know it all on the subject you’re talking about, so you actually understand what you’re saying.

Once you have the preparation sorted it’s time to practice. Practice your speech or presentation out loud in your room as many times as it takes for it to just roll off of your tongue. Then, call a friend, parent or partner and repeat it to them until you feel completely comfortable and almost a bit bored of it.

If you like, get some friends to actually listen to it in person- they will be able to give you some tips on how you need to improve. It could be criticism on your body language, such as encouraging you to speak a little louder or standing a bit straighter. They can also provide valuable support and assurance that you’re doing just fine.

It might also help to watch public speakers online and take notes on how they act. Everybody gets nervous, so see how the professionals deal with it and learn from them. You don’t have to be a confident person, you just have to pretend to be.

Once it’s actually time to perform your presentation, focus on some friendly faces in the audience and aim it mostly at them, a little smile from someone can really help give you a confidence boost. And if there are no friendly faces, imagine there are.

Don’t be afraid to use prompt cards to help you in case you do freeze, they are there to, help in these instances, and trigger your brain to remember the next section of your speech.

Finally, be sure to take a look at Cardiff University’s skills development service; it’s a great way to improve skills like public speaking. Remember the world will not end if you make a mistake on a presentation, just try to believe in yourself.

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