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Public speaking

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Published: 9 November 2020

Lecturer speaking to a class

Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is one of the most common phobias people have.

Around 25% of the global population experience it in some form – making it a problem we should all think about trying to address.

As University of Sunderland in London students, you’re going to find yourself speaking in front of people at some point during your studies.

That could be as simple as answering a question in class, talking in group work or even giving a presentation.

To get some confidence in your public speaking abilities, try out a few of our top tips.

Watch speakers

What better way to learn than from the best? Watch your lecturers in the first instance, they’re all professional public speakers.

Then head to YouTube and take a look at famous speeches from some of history's greatest orators. Try Martin Luther King Jr, Barack Obama, Winston Churchill, Julia Gillard, just to name a few.

Pay attention to the rhythm of their speech and body language as well as what they’re saying.

Start with the end goal

One thing people struggle with is not knowing what their conclusion will be when they start speaking.

A lot of us just hope we’ll find our point along the way which can cause a lot of anxiety. Instead, before you go up to speak, think about how you want to conclude.

That way you can work backwards, always bringing what you’re saying back to your point.

Keep your language simple

You don’t have to impress anyone by using big words. If you’re making your audience think too hard about what you mean they’re likely to stop listening. Use your points and reasoning to leave a good impression.

If what you’re saying is well thought through, argued and concluded you won’t need complicated language to make people think you know what you’re talking about - because you actually will!

Don’t give everything away in your presentation

Giving a talk isn’t necessarily about saying absolutely everything you know on a topic. Much more important is working out the information that will best present your argument and cutting it down to get your point across.

In most instances, your audience will have time to ask you questions, which is when you can give more detail. That leads to another tip - plan your time properly. Try to finish a little bit ahead of scheduled.

Build empathy and make it personal

The talks and speeches people remember connect the information being presented with a human factor.

A good example are TED Talks. These often complex scientific speeches normally start with a story the speaker gives that connects their experience to what motivated them to try and solve whatever problem they’re talking about.

Watch TED’s founder Chris Anderson explain how to give a great speech.

A lot of people think public speaking is a natural talent that they just don’t have. But the truth is, with thought and practise you can learn it.

Not only will this skill help you at university, but you’ll find the confidence it brings you useful throughout the whole of your life.

You can find more jobs skills on our Careers website, or visit the Digital Literacy Skills section of the Library website.

For more information, visit our Careers and Employability page. You can read about employability skills on our news pages.

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