Knees buckling, voice cracking, sweat dripping. The idea of public speaking can bring about a range of responses, many of which are negative. But though public speaking at university is inevitable, the nerves, fear and awkwardness are not.
How, you ask? Through programs like mooting, drama, improvisation and internships that boost your confidence and experience.
If you’re not a law student, or law student in-the-making, you may not have heard of a moot. But, Subject Mooting Director Jonathon Hetherington explains mooting is simply a competition between two teams. He says, “Two speakers from each team will speak for up to 20 minutes while facing questions from a judge. It simulates a Court of Appeal.
“On the whole, the competitions are meant to be competitive, simulate real-life legal arguments and provide a fun arena for competitors to practically test out their legal knowledge.”
The hope is that competitors will one day go on to represent the university at state- or nation-wide mooting competitions and develop advocacy skills they can use as real-life lawyers.
Third-year Juris Doctor student and 2017 Mooting Director Michael Mulvenna says, the simulation gives students the opportunity to speak under the same kind of pressure they’ll face in the workplace. “It’s persuasion; it’s the ability to get someone on your side of the argument. There’s a skill in that.”
For those not interested in making legal arguments, creativity can serve as an effective way to build up public speaking confidence. Journalism and Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation student Alanna Melvin is the President of the UTS Revue Society – a student-run collective dedicated to drama, improvisation and comedy sketches.
She says, “We’ve seen shy students come in who have that raw talent but not much confidence. By the end of the year though, they’re performing on stage, they’re speaking in front of huge crowds, and in social settings they’ll be more vocal because of the power that it’s given them.”
Melvin is one of them. “Joining revue has impacted my everyday life. It’s changed how I present in groups, it’s improved my ability to put my opinion forward, and to not be afraid of what other people think of it, and my ability to articulate my ideas.”
Even once you hit the workforce, the need to communicate well and speak to large audiences won’t come to an end.
Media arts and production student Carolina De Martino has had first-hand experience when it comes to a lack of speaking confidence in the search for a job.
Though she now volunteers with UTS Careers, De Martino says when she began job hunting, “I had no idea where to start or how to talk to industry people. It wasn’t until I had my first internship that I picked up on the kind of language used in the workplace, and that I really developed my perspective on how I should present myself to others.”
For De Martino, UTS Careers is ‘the’ place to go for jobs, industry experience, internships and volunteering opportunities. All of which helps to develop public speaking skills and confidence. “Confidence comes with time. University not only provides that time, but the opportunity, too.”