Recap: Public Speaking Workshop

Does pitching make you nervous? Have you ever wished you could improve your public speaking skills? Of course you’ve had these thoughts, we’ve all had!

On February 9, 2017 the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship hosted a Public Speaking Workshop with Jay Olson to help you captivate your audience and improve your speaking and presentation skills as the McGill Dobson Cup powered by National Bank Semi-Finals kicks into gear this week.

It was great to have Jay Olson, a McGill Ph.D. candidate in Psychiatry, with us to share some of his tips on improving these needed presentations skills.

Jay argued evaluating competence by the speaker’s confidence. In these short periods of time, audiences can realistically only evaluate your competence by your confidence. If your presentation seems that you’re lacking confidence, audiences tend to believe you lack competence in this field of knowledge, so it’s important to show conviction when presenting.

Jay Olsen, McGill Ph.D. candidate in Psychiatry

Another powerful point he discussed was the power of silence. Silence draws attention better than speech in moments when audiences expect noise, evoking tension and suspense. For your presentation, wait silently until you have your audience’s attention. Also, try to engage your audience immediately with something interesting.

Remember to slow the pace of your content delivery down. Not everyone has put the same time into this knowledge as you have. In fact, the larger the audience, the slower that pace should be. How can you evaluate your pace you may ask? Try the water bottle technique.

Taking a sip of water between chunks of content helps your audience digest your message. Yep, I got fooled thinking all those TED speakers drank because they were thirsty. So from now on, the larger the crowd I speak to, the larger the water bottle I’ll bring.

Nervousness is certainly an emotion most people feel before presenting. However, many successful speakers, don’t feel nervous. They understand how that emotion can be perceived as nervousness, but it can also be perceived as excitement. This cognitive reframing can totally reverse the negative aspects surrounding nervousness and replace it with a more positive mindset.

Jay dived into how the Yerkes-Dodson law develops this positive mindset.  This law dictates that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point. When levels of arousal become too high, performance decreases.

Among Jay’s other interesting point, here are three suggestions in preparation for your pitches.

  1. Speak as many times as you can.
  2. Have somebody evaluate you or videotape yourself.
  3. Work on one skill at a time.

The next event hosted by the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship is the Market Research Workshop on February 23, 2017.

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Calvin Wren

Calvin is the Editor-in-Chief for The Dobson Chronicles. He’s in U3, finishing a triple concentration in Finance, Information Systems, and Strategic Management. Calvin founded Citybuddy, a travel service for women wishing to travel alone and in security. He also feeds his own music blog and is fascinated by e-commerce.