Making Yourself Competitive: Skill 5

– A word from Gradlinc by Lizane Fuzy

The Art of Public Speaking

We get it. No one likes to do oral presentations in class. You feel stupid or shy. Especially if you have a loudmouth in the class that makes it look so easy and funny. Maybe you are a loudmouth and you know the other things that you are afraid of but too scared to share.

It doesn’t matter how shy you are or what kind of accent you have. In South Africa, EVERY single person has an accent. Because we have 11 official languages and thank goodness, we sound a bit more diverse and original than the single-language countries where everybody just sounds the same, right?

The point is that you absolutely must brush up on verbal communication. It is probably one of the most important skills you can ever master and it will always benefit you. The presentations in class are intimidating with peers watching you, but it is such good practice because one day, you might have fewer friendly people in the room and you still have to deliver your presentation convincingly.

So, you are shy, and you are not thinking of a career where you must speak in front of people? It is inevitable. Say you want to become a doctor; you will be attending daily ward rounds where you present patients. Perhaps you are studying engineering where you will have to present your design and plans to your team as the project lead. Perhaps you enjoy history and only want to research ancient cultures, but you still must present your research and contribute to conferences or even the media if you have interesting findings to share. Or perhaps you love academia and want to continue with your PhD. You are still expected to present at conferences and other events, not to mention having to defend your thesis publicly once you are finished. Right, so maybe you are into a computer or data science, and you only work with regression analyses. At some point, you will have to address colleagues to report on your work or results. It is unavoidable that somewhere in your career you will need to speak in public and better to practice it where you can rather than avoid it until you have no choice and then do a poor job. If you are perhaps already an influencer on social media, it is a great way to practice because watching your videos back will help you realise when you are talking too fast, mumbling too much, saying ‘uhm’ one too many times and just generally become comfortable sharing your opinion out loud.

It is scary and intimidating. But it gets easier the more you practice.

Inspired by an article published in Forbes and written by Natalie Peart: The 12 Most Important Skills You Need To Succeed At Work.

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