Do you feel anxious at the thought of giving a speech, presenting at a conference, completing a viva, or attending an interview? If so, you’re not alone. Teaching Fellow Grace MacMillan explains how to gear up for public speaking success.
The fear of public speaking affects a significant portion of the population and is frequently cited as one of people’s worst anxieties, so much so that there’s even a phobia named after it: glossophobia!
Glossophobia is often attributed to concerns about being judged and making mistakes in a public setting.
For most of us, speaking to audiences is not an innate talent. It’s a skill that has to be learnt in order to be successful in academic life and to progress in our careers.
Learning to drive
Public speaking is a bit like driving a car.
If you don’t know how to drive, would you expect to be able to get in a car and drive it just because you’ve watched someone else doing it? Hopefully not!
Just like driving, public speaking takes time to learn and requires a lot of practice.
Also like driving, you’re in total control of the situation and you have to take your audience to a destination.
You have to focus on:
- conveying your meaning well
- being aware of your audience
- keeping track of time and pace
- monitoring your language, your voice, and delivery
Learner drivers have to concentrate on many things simultaneously which is very demanding at first, but after a while, it becomes a lot more automatic.
Public speaking workshops
As part of the Skills Centre’s skills enrichment programme, we’re running a series of workshops every Wednesday in weeks 7-10 (15 November to 6 December 2023) to build confidence and skills for speaking to audiences in academic and professional contexts.
The four workshops are 90 minutes each and can be taken together as a course, or as standalone sessions.
They cover the following topics:
- Confidence: learn some key strategies to build your overall confidence in public speaking
- Vocality: learn vocal techniques to control and improve the quality of your voice
- Working collaboratively: learn how to get the most out of working with others at university or in the workplace
- Speaking to large audiences: learn how to prepare your talk and make a positive impact on the day
Each workshop includes a short pre-task.
If you’re a nervous speaker, you won’t be forced out of your comfort zone. We’ll aim to support and encourage you and build your confidence step by step. If you feel more confident, you’ll learn how to develop your public speaking skills even further!
We hope the workshops will put you in the driving seat to becoming a confident and successful public speaker!