“But I’m scared!” Preparing for Speeches and Presentations

Standing up to give a talk can be a nerve-racking experience for anyone: from pre-schoolers presenting their very first ‘news’ item to grown-ups giving a talk to the parents’ association or CEOs addressing their first board meeting. It is even more so if you have a speech impediment such as stuttering.

For anyone in that position or anyone who just wants to know how on earth to be brave, I highly recommend that you watch this moving talk delivered by the Australian singer, Megan Washington, at the Sydney Opera House in 2014:


For year 12 HSC students, giving a speech often means speaking in an empty grey classroom to tired teachers who sit up the back writing notes, offering very little feedback. They need to meet to discuss your presentation before awarding you a mark that may count for 5-10% of your HSC mark for that subject.

The single best tip I can offer is to prepare and practise, over and over again. Deliver it to a compassionate audience (the dog if need be) or someone who cares enough to tell you the truth kindly, before you face the real thing. Time yourself so you know exactly when you should be on card 1 or 5 of your notes. Do not include too much content. Allow room for yourself to breathe, look up and take it slowly.

On another note: ever wondered how do we get people to listen, really listen, to what we have to say? Could a little more silence be the answer?

Julian Treasure offers some gems (pardon the pun!) worth thinking about in this brief presentation:


So if you're feeling afraid and want to run the other way, just remember: if Megan Washington can do it, you can too!   Be brave and breathe. 😊


Kristin Hammett-Stevens