Each month RTS Scholars participate in virtual workshops to gain the skills they need to thrive in internships and career-track jobs. This month, Scholars stepped out of their comfort zone by participating in our first-annual public speaking competition. Students wowed the audience with topics ranging from rocket science to personal life hacks. Katie Kitchens, the co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of FabFitFun judged the competition along with Mallory Mangold – Senior Director of Marketing at Tapas Media, Natalie Catalan – VP of Business Development at Canyon Partners, and our very own Pat McCabe – co-Founder of Ready to Succeed. After much deliberation and great advice, the judges selected the following three winners! 

One secret that our four judges shared is that public speaking is difficult – even for these seasoned professionals! Here are four insightful tips the judges shared. 

  • If you mess up during a speech, it’s ok! Just take a deep breath and keep going. 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you make a mistake during a presentation, especially when you’re already nervous. In reality, most people cannot tell if you’ve made a mistake, only you can. When you make a mistake, take a few deep breaths to reset and ground yourself before continuing. That gives you time to think about your next moves. Audiences value authenticity rather than perfection and making mistakes is a part of being human. 

  • Let your personality shine! Avoid reading directly from your notes.

Sure, you want to write notes, prepare and  practice your speech as much as you can. But it’s hard to let your personality shine if you’re looking down and trying to follow the words on the page. Our judges – all public speaking wizards – recommended creating a general outline – or even writing out sentences with a few words left of at the end so you can be more conversational and better connect with your audience.  

  • Coffee is great, just not before you speak publicly. 

Coffee or other energy drinks can help you quickly absorb information and stay energized. But right before a speech, a jolt of caffeine can make you more anxious, jittery and speak too fast. 

  • Do you think public speaking is scary? Join the club – Standing up and speaking in front of others is one of the top 5 fears for most people!

You may think that you are uniquely bad at public speaking, but most people get nervous at the thought of having to speak in front of an audience, no matter how big or small. It’s important to acknowledge and validate your anxious feelings while reminding yourself that you are not alone. Public speaking is one of life’s greatest difficulties. The more you do it, the better off you are in the long run. Public speaking skills will ensure that you are able to successfully advocate for yourself in both your professional life and personal life. 

If you would like to lend your expertise at an upcoming workshop or to RTS scholars please click here.

Read to next article in June’s newsletter: It’s Time to Celebrate! Summer Job + Internship Placements