Fear not - the art of public speaking

It's no secret that public speaking is pretty much Public Enemy Number One in the professional sphere. However, in a lot of jobs public speaking or presenting to a team of people can be a necessary part of the job. If you find you dread the idea of speaking in front of others, read these tips to overcome these fears and deliver a successful speech!

1. Inspiration

Taking inspiration from others can prove to build confidence within yourself and your speech. Try to watch speeches from great public speakers (YouTube is a great tool for this). Watch their mannerisms, posture, and tone of voice, LOOK AT IT ALL. Then, practice! Try to re-enact these speeches, using some of the great parts of these presentations to make yourself look and feel more comfortable, and engaging.

2. Become a Storyteller!

The oldest profession in the world is storytelling, otherwise how would the men in the pub know out about the other oldest profession?! So when it comes to delivering a cracker speech, become a storyteller! A great way to approach public speaking and presentation - in the face of sheer terror -  is to think of the task as telling a story to the audience. The words “public speaking” or “pitch” can sometimes cause fear to set in and that's when we become our own worst enemies. MIND OVER MATTER PEOPLE! Putting yourself into a positive mindset can sometimes make all the difference, and can stop the fear and panic from setting in. Write your “speech” like you are telling a story. This not only limits that performance anxiety, but it can prove to be a more compelling and engaging presentation. 

3. Practice, practice and more practice!

A key to getting over that sheer terror of public speaking is practice. The more familiar you become with the content and its delivery, the easier it is to eliminate the anxiety that can sometimes be felt when having to publicly present. When practicing your presentation, try filming yourself. Filming your speech can allow you to get used to having to direct your presentation to an “audience” (even if it is just a camera) and then you can watch it. Watching yourself on camera is a great way to see how your audience will view you when you present. It allows you to make improvements and fix problems before the day, thus allowing for a flawless presentation and less nerves when it's time to step on stage.

Overall, it’s easy to be afraid or intimidated at the idea of presenting or speaking in front of others, whether they are peers, co-workers or strangers. However, these steps can help to reduce those ill feelings, build your confidence and enhance your presentation skills.

Sorry, what's the salary?

So you find the perfect job advertisement, it is everything you want. So, next step? Obviously, you have to apply! You spend hours editing your resume to make it just right, then comes the cover letter… You need to sound intelligent, personable, professional and you also want to demonstrate your experience, education and interest in the role. All done right? Wrong! Now you need to complete the selection criteria form the company has so nicely prepared for all applicants. So, you power through the questions (for a few hours), making sure your spelling, grammar and answers are extraordinary.  Done? For now!

Then comes the waiting game, dreaming and thinking about this perfect job, hoping for that call or email for an interview. You get a call! You go in for the interview. Filled with general interview-type questions, you get a great vibe and you answer everything to the best of your ability. You leave the interview really confident, feeling positive about this job opportunity. The only problem is, you don’t know the salary yet?!

It sounds crazy, some people wouldn’t be that interested in a position without knowing the potential income for the job, however it’s a great company, a great position and exactly what you were looking for so you applied anyway. You went to the first interview; it went well, but still no idea about salary. You didn’t want to bring it up and look money-focused to your potential new boss, but your curiosity of the supposed income is starting to itch…

A few days later you get another call, inviting you back for a second interview! Apparently they could not decide yet, you’re still in the running (YAY). However, this means another hour and a half round trip and taking the morning off your current job to make the interview, again. You attend the interview (make the relevant sacrifices and efforts necessary) and it goes really well, again. Still, no discussion of salary…. What do you do? Do you wait incase you receive an official offer to see the remuneration agreement? Is that too far away? What if the salary is much lower than your current job and you can’t afford to take the position?

This is a problem many people face during the job-hunting process, feeling awkward and confused as to how to bring up the conversation about the ‘pay’. Your potential employer has not raised the issue, you don’t know how, and you don’t want to come off the wrong way. Here are a few factors to think about when you want to bring up the conversation of income, without tarnishing your image and employment opportunity:

  • You have already had one interview with the company
  • You know the company is quite invested in you, and interested in you for the position (maybe not many other applicants still in the running for the job can be a good indication for this)
  • Don’t let it seem like it’s your deciding focus or only interest in the position
  • Make sure you sound tactful
  • Try to say, “So what are your thoughts for the salary range of this position?”

Remember, as long as you follow these steps and you know the company is seriously interested about you, and you have been able to build a type of relationship or comfort ability with the interviewer, you shouldn’t be too scared to ask about salary. It is important after a while and as long as you approach it correctly, it shouldn’t be a problem!

Email requests you should try to avoid (at all costs)!

In our technologically savvy world, emails seem to have taken over our channels of communication, especially at work… And, why not? Emails have allowed us to communicate with our bosses, colleagues and clients from anywhere and at any time, with the option for efficient replies and results. The good old email trail also keeps information documented and accessible. But due to our reliance on these technological devices, it seems some bad habits and unrealistic demands have begun.. And you might not even realise you are doing it.

Here are some key requests you should try to avoid when emailing… and why!

1. Requests for a change in your work routine

These days our work can often provide us with flexibility and choice within our working schedules. If you find you prefer to start a little later, come into the office earlier, work from home or at a different office, that’s usually fine! However, asking your boss for these changes in your work routine is necessary. Now comes the issue of asking for these desired changes….. Email? NO! Asking for something like a routine change at work is not something that should be communicated through email. Why? Well, your boss will most likely want an explanation as to why you want or need this routine change. He or she will also potentially want to hear the reasons behind how this change will benefit not just your work, but also the overall teams’ work and goals. A face-to-face conversation will also allow you to seem sincere and respectful and will allow for a more positive outcome between you and your boss.

2. Is it time for a raise?

Asking for a pay rise can be a tricky task, and not because you don’t necessarily deserve it. It is just a difficult conversation to bring up with your boss, usually because you are scared or nervous of the reply, or because you really, really want this raise and want everything to go perfectly. This type of request needs to be asked in person. The tone of voice, the mood, situation and your delivery of the request are all extremely important factors when asking such a large request. An important note to remember is that these factors cannot be portrayed or received through email (even if you found a bunch of email templates for “asking for a raise” on Google).

3. Please reply ASAP!!

One of the positive attributes of email is the efficient communication route and speedy results. However, due to these fast-past interactions we have become somewhat accustomed to automatic responses, whether it is on email, text message or a phone call. This technological age has caused us to expect radically quick responses, and sometimes these are unrealistic requests. When communicating through any channel, we have to remain realistic, logical and fair in terms of the response time. We have all experienced that frustration when we have not received a reply, that file you were after or that information you needed for a presentation from your co-worker. However, we usually don’t stop to consider whether that co-worker is in a meeting. Or at home due to illness. Or driving. There are many reasons that person hasn’t replied in 20 minutes. The major problem is that we are requesting (well, more like demanding) something from them over email with a tiny timeframe for a result. If you need something from a co-worker it is always best to allow 24-48 hours before you need the result, as it is not our co-worker’s job to be glued to their iPhone/computer waiting for an email from us.

Even though emails only require a click of a button to be sent, we need to think about what content and requests we are sending to people. Some times it is better to get up, walk down the hall and knock on that person’s office door.



About Us

The Institute of Careers is a leading career development and advisory support service, equipping Australian job-seekers and employees with the know-how to supercharge their careers. We offer a wide range of resources, including cheat sheets, FAQs and customisable templates, covering all aspects of professional development – from writing a cracking cover letter, searching for a job and selling yourself in an interview, to landing a promotion and becoming a great manager.