Skip to main content
SFU Student Undergraduate
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
Co-operative Education

Eden sitting at a table with papers

When I was told, I'd be speaking to high school students as part of my Co-op experience as an Engagement and Recruitment Assistant at SFU School of Communication, I knew I'd have to rely on my voice more than ever before. Irritatingly for some, I've always been a person unafraid of speaking publicly or using my voice; it's been my superpower since I was young. As a result, I was one of the few I knew who enjoyed giving presentations. Therefore, I never had to worry or second-guess myself regarding public speaking.

However, through my work term, I soon became aware that my public speaking skills were not something that was accustomed to everyone. This was made apparent when a young man approached me after a presentation and asked this question: "how did you become confident to public speak?" At that moment, I didn't have an answer, but now after taking some time to think about that question more in-depth, I have some solutions that could help any nervous speaker let their voice shine in any situation they may come up against. 

Solution 1: Believe You've Known the Audience for Years
Man with a hat and a skateboard saying "How do you do, fellow kids"
Credit
https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/13/15966094/30-rock-buscemi-how-do-you-do-fellow-kids-meme-kill-it-please

When beginning to give workshops at high schools, I became painfully aware that once you've left high school, any "cool factor" has disappeared completely. Instead of trying to impress these moody teenagers and morph into the human embodiment of "how do you do, fellow kids," I did what I knew best: treat them like my equal. Rather than focus on the age gap between the students and me, I treated them as if I were talking to friends or individuals, I'd met a dozen times beforehand. The strategy here is to get comfortable with who you're speaking for; rather than focus on a room full of strangers, talk how you would if you were presenting for friends. This helps you relax and creates a more comforting environment for the audience, allowing the speaker and the crowd to feel more at ease. 

Solution 2: Tailor the Content Towards Yourself

When building my presentation, I added tidbits of my personality and interests so the audience could get to know me as a presenter. One way I tailor presentations is by adding my sense of humour. I would add jokes or anecdotes to my workshop to entertain the audience and become more relaxed. I was told once by someone close to me that you are your harshest critic and the hardest person to impress. I've used those words of wisdom to my advantage by adding my personality and interests to my presentation. That way, I can make myself feel calmer by speaking about things that I like and enjoy and resonating with the audience by having moments of comfort that don't take effort to talk about and help me become more comfortable in front of a crowd. Mine, for example, was talking about my love for RuPaul’s Drag Race when introducing myself as a speaker. 

A girl saying "you're a star baby"
Credit
https://gfycat.com/accomplishedfixedboar
Solution 3: Bring in discussions to help your audience participate

Hearing my own voice after a while can be grating. Your audience should be allowed to express their thoughts and ideas to add to the conversation. A two-minute discussion around a question can boost the energy in the room, and it also provides you a moment to sit with your thoughts, grab a drink of water and assess your following speaking points. Your audience may have significant matters to share, so encourage them to participate and use their points in your own examples. This shows that you're actively listening as well as interested in what others have to say. 

Public Speaking is challenging, and I applaud anyone who can speak in front of a crowd because it takes a lot of courage. Everyone's methods are different, and everyone has a different comfort zone. These tips helped me when speaking to audiences to sell me as a speaker and make me feel comfortable. I hope these pointers will encourage you to try new methods of addressing crowds and find newfound confidence within yourself. 

"All the worlds a stage" - William Shakespeare.

A man bowing in front of a blue background
SFU Student Undergraduate
Co-operative Education
visibility  279
Feb 16, 2023

Posts by Author

Emma standing in front of the pond at SFU Burnaby
Blog
A Co-op Student’s Guide to Media Relations

Like many Communications students, I came into the School of Communication very interested in media; both studying it and working in it. I found it harder and harder to pinpoint where I could fit into it professionally as I learned more about it. What do you do when you’re interested in media, but not sure you want to work directly in media?

A phone on the home screen where the apps for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can be seen
Blog
Tips for Effective Social Media Marketing

When promoting events and news on social media on behalf of a club, service, or business, the main goal is to get as many eyes as possible on the content. One of my tasks in my 8-month Co-op position was to post updates on their social media accounts, which includes job postings, upcoming events, and special announcements. Over these months, I was able to find useful strategies and tools to help me manage these profiles effectively and efficiently.

Co-op students standing outside around a sign that says "SFU"
Blog
Event Planning 101: 3 Tips for Planning an Event even Gen-Z’s will Enjoy

Coming into this Co-op position as an Outreach, Promotion, and Engagement Coordinator for SFU’s School of Communication, I was not expecting to gain any sort of event planning experience. Creating an event for our incoming students for Fall 2023, was a brand-new concept that flourished this semester.

You Might Like These... During the Work Term, Professional Development, Workplace Success, Workplace Transition, Communication

Co-op coordinator wth student during site visit
Make the Most of Your Co-op Site Visits

Your Co-op Coordinator, supervisor, and you in the same room -- time for a site visit! Co-op site visits are a time for reflection on your work term including what could be improved and what has been great so far.

person with their head in a book
Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.

 

A woman fast asleep
Sleeping for Success at Work!

The days of pulling all nighters and getting by on 2-3 hours sleep are over! Getting enough sleep is essential to ensure you can keep up with the demands of a fulltime work schedule and put forth your best performance.

You Might Like These... Communication

Person on transit looking out the window
How To Say Goodbye At Work

Saying goodbye is hard under any circumstance, and people tend to avoid doing it as a result. Workplace relationships end all the time, so what's the best way to end them gracefully? I share my thoughts here.

View of BC Cancer Research Center from W 10th Avenue looking North
Branching Out and Standing Out at the BC Cancer Agency

Working in a huge building can be intimidating and make you feel very small, especially as a temporary Co-op student. Check out what Josh did to make sure everyone in the BC Cancer Research Center knew who he was!

Christopher Pun standing next to a "WorkSafe BC" banner
The Art of Giving (and Receiving) Feedback

Beedie Business student, Christopher Pun shares what he's learned about the art of giving and receiving feedback in the workplace.