During your studies – or even in an internship or job – you may be called upon to conduct a presentation or take on another kind of public speaking engagement. Being able to clearly and confidently convey your thoughts and ideas is vital to success, which is why it’s crucial to develop your communication skills.
It is perfectly normal to be nervous about public speaking, but do not be afraid. There are several tips you can take on board to ensure that when you’re doing university presentations or speeches, you’re giving them your absolute best.
Master the 3Ps of public speaking
You may have heard of the 3Ps of public speaking: prepare, practise, perform. Following these three simple steps can help you plan and execute your presentation or speech.
Prepare – This is the part where you put together your presentation or speech. Make sure to keep the target audience in mind and think about how you can make it relevant to them.
Practise – Curious about how to practise public speaking? You can do it in front of someone you trust who is comfortable giving you constructive feedback. Alternatively, you can record a video of yourself and watch it over. Practising allows you to master things like eye contact, fluency of speech, tone of voice and hand gestures.
Perform – Now is the time to put all that practice to good use. Whether you are giving a speech or presentation in class or on stage, have faith in the process and all the hard work you have put in – and enjoy the moment.
Join a club at university
Enrolling in a club or society that interests you is not only a fantastic way to get involved with your university and meet new people, but it can also be great for developing your public speaking skills (and your English speaking skills, too!).
You could become a part of the leadership team by taking on the role of president, vice president, treasurer or marketing director. This will increase your engagement with different kinds of people (such as your peers and university staff), making you a more fluent and confident communicator. As part of the leadership team, you may also be required to perform public speaking engagements from time to time, which allows you to continue developing your skills.
Join a public speaking group or course
If you’re wondering how to train in public speaking, there are plenty more opportunities outside your studies to improve your skills. Organisations like Rostrum and Toastmasters International run workshops on public speaking and leadership skills, and also let you interact with lots of different people – this builds your confidence as well as your network, and teaches you how to improve speaking in front of an audience.
You can also find smaller businesses offering training on public speaking for students, as well as plenty of groups and networking events on Meetup. Your education provider might also have some kind of public speaking or presentation training – ask the international student support unit to find out.
Be vocal and express your thoughts
During lectures, seminars and tutorials, you’re encouraged to express your thoughts and ideas – whether it’s with your peers or your lecturer or tutor. Speaking in class can help boost your confidence, while also contributing to your participation grades and making you stand out to your teachers.
Being vocal about your ideas and discussing them with your classmates is another great way to get comfortable with public speaking. In any kind of workplace environment, you’ll be required to interact with other people in a professional manner. So, being able to do so while you’re still studying will put you ahead when you enter the workplace.
Try active listening
Presentations aren’t solely dependent on speaking about your thoughts and ideas; one of the most crucial parts is fielding questions. This is where you should carefully listen to the question and address it with an appropriate answer to show that you’ve properly heard what the person is asking. You can improve your active listening skills by getting your friends or family to ask you questions after your practice presentation. Then, you can try to answer as clearly as possible and even get them to give you feedback on your response.