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The basics
Study abroad : Once you arrive

How to speak in public with no fear

Giving a presentation to a group of people in a different language is an incredibly difficult thing to do. We offer tips and advice on how to prepare and deliver a presentation in English without feeling (too much) fear.

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Speaking in front of a group of people can be stressful for many people. Doing it in a language that isn’t your own can make it even harder. There are so many different things to think about when presenting in front of others. Here are some top tips to make the preparation and presentation easier for you. 


Preparation for public speaking

The key to a successful presentation is preparation and practice. The better prepared you are, and the more you practice, the easier speaking in public will be and the less stressed you will feel. When you begin preparing your materials and slides for your talk, the most important questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • Who is my audience?

  • How much do they know about this topic?

  • What questions might they ask?


Keeping these questions in mind will ensure that your presentation will engage your audience and help them understand the topic more easily. 


When you put together your slide deck, remember not to use too many slides or have too much written text and information on each slide. The slides should help you and your audience follow your presentation, but they shouldn’t distract your audience, and you should definitely NOT read from your slides. 


Speaking to an audience in English presents a further challenge for international students. When you’re putting together your notes and slide deck, write in English and not your first language. If you translate from your language, this will take too much time, and your presentation won’t sound natural. 


Lastly, but most importantly, practise! Practise, practise, practise – alone, in front of your mirror, to family or friends. The more you practise, the more confident you will feel and the easier it will be to remember the order and content of your talk. It’s also important to record yourself, listen to your recording and focus on your vocabulary and pronunciation. 


If there are words that you’re finding difficult to pronounce, look up the word in an online English dictionary and use the 🔊 icon to listen to the correct pronunciation of the word. You could also make use of a language learning app to help you.


Discover more about presentation skills when applying to university. Public speaking skills can also help in an interview situation.



Presentation day

On the day of your talk, here are some things to do to help keep you focused and calm:

  • Breathe – take deep breaths to help slow down your heart rate and help focus your mind.

  • Don’t speak too quickly. Some people speak very quickly when they’re nervous, this will make your message unclear and makes it difficult for your audience to understand. Breathe to help slow you down.

  • Speak a little louder. Some people speak quietly when they are nervous again. This makes it difficult for your audience. 

  • Make eye contact with the people you’re speaking to. This helps your audience feel more engaged and will help you judge if your audience is following your message. 

  • Use your hands to help describe what you’re saying. 80 per cent of communication is body language. Use your body language to help you.

  • Don’t fear silence. Use pausing to help emphasise important points in your speech. If you ask your audience a question, wait a little while for an answer to be given. Your audience may need a little time to think of their answer, or they may feel a little embarrassed to speak up. Don’t fear short periods of silence. 

  • Don’t fear questions. Allow your audience to ask questions. If you prefer to answer questions at the end of your presentation, tell your audience at the very beginning that you will answer questions at the end. If you’re happy to take questions during your presentation, tell them that too. ‘I’ll be happy to take questions at the end of my presentation.’ ‘Please feel free to ask questions during my talk.’

  • Don’t worry if you don’t know the answer. If someone asks a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t be afraid, to be honest with your audience. Tell them that you will go away and do some research and will get an answer to them soon. Here’s a useful expression: ‘That’s a really good question. I don’t have the answer for your right now, but I’ll look into it and get back to you soon.’


This advice won’t make your fear of public speaking disappear completely, but hopefully, it will help to make you feel more confident and better prepared. Like everything, with time, the more you present, the easier it becomes. 


Good luck and *break a leg!

*break a leg – an expression of good luck given to people about to perform in front of an audience.


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