Hot Topic: Overcoming Fear

October is a month filled with your first round of exams, the importance of picking out a Halloween costume, and overcoming fear to go to the local haunted house or corn maze.  Okay so maybe you aren’t afraid at a haunted house, but there has to be something that gives you the goose bumps or makes you nervous.  In college a lot of students are nervous about taking exams, achieving a good grade, and if you are in engineering public speaking and presentations might just be on your list.

In the engineering field it is important to communicate effectively in and outside of teams.  It is important to become comfortable speaking in front of an audience.  Your audience could be just 5 people around a table or 20+ in a department meeting.  When creating your presentation, cater the information to your audience.  Make an outline of what you need to say before going into the meeting and practice if you have ample time to do so.  If you can’t practice in your work facility or classroom, run through your presentation on your own time.  The more you note what you need to say and go through it, the more polished your presentation will be.  Practice will also make you more comfortable and relaxed about the presentation.  When it comes to show time, if you make a mistake, don’t sweat it.  You’re only human, you are bound to get tongue tied.  Simply pause, recompose, and continue.

Companies are becoming more globally inclusive as time progresses.  Luckily technology aids in communicating with the global market.  Face to face presentations may be easier to conduct, but virtual meetings seem nearly inevitable now a days.  Conducting a meeting or giving a presentation virtually is just as important as face to face.  If the idea of being video tapped is unsettling to you, think of it the same as a face to face meeting.  Remember to practice if you have the time.  If you feel that you may not remember all of your slides or main points for a speech, it is okay to have neat note cards or a sheet highlighting your main points.  Creating a hard copy of your main points will keep you on track yet prepared for your next topic.

As you’ve been told since your first penmanship class, practice makes perfect.  Taking time to prepare for a presentation will make you more confident.  Confidence will lower your stress and keep you relaxed.  Public speaking skills will not come to you through osmosis over night, but with practice you can ace your next presentation without the jitters.

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