Mark Mintoff My superpower is common sense

19Jan/124

My First Foray Into Public Speaking

A few weeks ago, I was invited by my ex-lecturer Conrad Aquilina to speak to his students about:

  • My experience in MCAST and how relevant it was to the IT work environment
  • My experiences in an IT work place
  • Career progression

I am by no means a fan of public speaking, but I agreed to do it and worried myself sick over the whole thing. Today; 19th January 2012, I went back to MCAST and got into a discussion with the students. I had absolutely nothing prepared. I couldn't bring myself to make a Powerpoint Presentation about my life, and I couldn't bring myself to even write notes on what I wanted to say. So, to add on top of the stage fright I was already feeling, I went in unprepared, intent on winging it.

Those that know me might say that I'm an outspoken person, but that is not an accurate description. You see, I'm outspoken when I am writing, but not so much when I am faced with speaking in public. This is due to the fact that in writing, you have all the time in the word to formulate your statements. There are no interruptions, allowing you to freely express your opinion in full. You have the time to edit what you are going to say. There is no need for "um"s and "er"s to stall for time. It would be a more accurate picture to say that I'm outwritten more than outspoken. Why I have such an aversion to public speaking is beyond me, but probably related to some event or other in my childhood. However, I brought myself to do it. There are two chief things which helped me summon enough confidence, and these are:

Shyness is the ultimate form of egotism.

There is nothing that spells out self obsession as clearly as shyness does. Shyness is at its core the overt concern regarding what others think of you. By simply altering my frame of mind to think of others and address their needs, I was able to get over my shy disposition and speak freely.

Act as if you're good at it.

There is no easier way to come off as an expert in all things, than putting aside your self doubt and addressing people in a confident manner and the biggest short-cut to this attitude is to simply behave as if you are good at what you do. Too often are we good at things, but our self-criticism is often our downfall as we bumble our way through things coming off as an incompetent fool. If you are good at something, behave accordingly and stop being critical of yourself. You'll do fine.

Everything went great; the students listened to what I had to say about my experiences with education and the work place. They were interested in the bad and the good. They wanted to know about how to get their first job. They asked me some very intelligent questions; which I was more than happy to answer. Conrad directed the discussion expertly, keeping the conversation flowing. I was a bit disappointed when my hour was up and I enjoyed the applause and "Thank You"s of the students.

I would say that my first foray into public speaking was a success, so if any of Conrad's students happened to Google me and ended up reading this post: My most heart-felt thank you for your interest, I hope that what I had to say was relevant and useful to you!

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