The ‘What It Takes’ event series features an array of exciting and innovative alumni speakers sharing their experience and advice on a diverse range of topics. This event series is exclusively designed for current students and new graduates, and you will receive invitations as and when new events are announced. Each event will provide you with tangible advice and insights on a range of careers; past topics have included ‘What It Takes to be a YouTuber’ and ‘What It Takes to be an Entrepreneur’.

One of the most popular events earlier this year was ‘What It Takes to be a Confident Public Speaker’. According to Jenny Garrett (Business Administration BA, 2001), Westminster alumna and executive coach, research shows that most people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death. Public speaking is a key career skill that could help you ace a job interview or deliver a winning presentation, so what can you do to conquer your fear? Jenny shared her speaking tips.

From Scared to Excited

  • Reframe how you feel. Think about being on a rollercoaster: you’re scared, but excited at the same time. If you think of it as fear, it’s much harder to overcome. Think of it as an exciting opportunity, and you might enjoy it!
  • Think about your message, and why it’s important to you. If you care enough, you move past all your fears.
  • Visualise both the worst and best outcomes. The worst possible outcomes is that you could die, but it’s far more likely that you will do a great job, and you will always learn from the experience.
  • Make fear your friend.

From Frozen to Fluid

  • Breathe!
  • Standing is better than sitting, as it’s easier to project and you can use your adrenaline. Experiment with moving around too.
  • Think about your body language. How can you use your movements to help communicate your message?
  • Practice, practice, practice. If you’re well prepared, that gives you the freedom to be yourself and say what you want.

From Presenter to Storyteller

  • Think about what you want your audience to feel.
  • Structure is key – include a beginning, middle and end.
  • Speak from personal experience. That way, you won’t have to memorise anything as you’ll already know it!
  • If you want to become confident at something, you have to do it. Take opportunities to speak so that you can improve.

Jenny demonstrated how to end a speech with this inspirational quote: ‘I want you to speak even if your voice shakes. I want you to speak when your voice shakes. I want you to speak until your voice no longer shakes.’

Join us in the autumn for the next series of ‘What It Takes’ events.

Jenny Garrett giving a talk

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