Last week I attended a Cross Party Group meeting at the Scottish Parliament to share my personal experience of dealing with social work, you can watch the vlog of my day here.

Public speaking has never been my favourite thing to do, during my whole education I would always feel utterly nervous and try my best to not talk as much as possible. Except since mid-last year, public speaking is all I’ve been doing, and I love it. I think it may be different because I’m talking about personal experiences and subjects that I am passionate about. With being more confident I decided to share my top 5 tips on how I keep my nerves in tack even though I’m terrified inside.

Me Speaking at Scottish Parliament
Me Speaking at Scottish Parliament

Stay refreshed
When I get nervous my throat starts to feel very dry and then that usually makes me more nervous because I start to worry I’m going to choke infront of everyone. Therefore, I always make sure that I have a bottle of water beside me. Usually at events they have jugs of water and glasses for speakers. However, with having minimal muscle strength I don’t know what type of glasses they have so, I am prepared with my bottle of water that I am able to easily lift.

Open with a humorous sentence
This is something I do sometimes without even knowing, but I feel that it makes me more relaxed for the rest of the presentation. I also think that it makes people more engaged in your presentation from the start.

Be prepared
During my time in education, I used to go very over the top with preparation. I would write up notes on A4 sheets of paper and read word for word. Learning from the past though I started to realise this was not engaging. With doing this come traits like mumbling, losing where I was and having too many pieces of paper to juggle. Recently I have tried to present by memorising what I’d like to say however, I felt like I was forgetting important things I wanted to say.
Therefore, now I write out brief bullet point notes. Not full sentences, but enough to keep track of what I’m saying. Keywords are usually the best.

Eye contact
I always thought that the bigger the audience for a presentation, the worst it was. Although now I think the opposite. When there is a small audience then I usually feel obliged to make eye contact with everyone, however when there are a lot of people I only focus on a few people, mainly people straight ahead. By saying a few, I’d say between 5 and 10 people and I’d recommend moving eye contact at least every 20 seconds.

Finally, I must say to take your time and make sure you are happy with what you’ve spoke about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finished my presentations and thought I’d missed important things out. As I’ve said above this is due to also being prepared, but I also feel it’s because I’ve talked too fast and started to get very nervous.

I hope you all found these top 5 tips helpful for any presentations you may have, please share any public speaking tips that you may have.

I thoroughly enjoy going to different events to share my experiences on social care, accessibility and generally all things to do with living life with a disability. If anyone would like to get in contact, please don’t hesitate to get in touch here.

One thought on “Top 5 Tips on Public Speaking”

  1. Great advice Claire and well done on your public speaking and especially at the Scottish Parliament.
    Something that follows on from your notes is a ‘storyboard’ where your script could be pictures that jog your memory and give you a paragraph. Worked well for my colleague Maggie and I when we were among the winners in an internal competition that CHAS ran, funnily enough with the final in Dundee.
    Have a look at a guy called Bob Keillor and his TED talk . Google that and you’ll get it on youtube. He tutored us at a workshop and he is a fantastic public speaker well worth looking at his technique. He avoids powerpoint and uses storyboards in a way that makes it look as if he has no script. His key takeway is preparation and practice.
    If you think it would help I can pass on some of the stuff we learned in the workshops on public speaking as part of the competition organised for CHAS by the Lens Pespective, again worth a wee Google.
    Well done it’s not easy but its worth trying to keep improving and really get your message across but huge respect for your work.

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