How To Speak In Public

How To Speak In Public

Group Size ? 1.) Small group (teams of 4-6)
2.) Individual Task
3.) Large Group
4.) Any

Large Group, Any

Learning Environment ? 1.) Lecture Theatre
2.) Presentation Space
3.) Carousel Tables (small working group)
4.) Any
5.) Outside
6.) Special

Lecture Theatre, Presentation Space

QAA Enterprise Theme(s) ? 1.) Creativity and Innovation
2.) Opportunity recognition, creation and evaluation
3.) Decision making supported by critical analysis and judgement
4.) Implementation of ideas through leadership and management
5.) Reflection and Action
6.) Interpersonal Skills
7.) Communication and Strategy

5Reflection and Action 7Communication and Strategy


  • To give engineering students an insight into the importance and relevance of public speaking, presentation, and communication skills to their subject area.
  • To equip students with insights, strategies and skills to become more effective communicators.
  • To allow students to reflect on the diverse environments in which they will require public speaking skills in the future, and to reflect on the most effective strategies to employ in each instance.
  • To provide students with a practical opportunity to nurture and develop their communication skills.


In the working world, engineers are required to work with numerous stakeholders, from their own sector and from others, based locally, nationally and internationally. Engineering students will find themselves in many interview and presentation scenarios at the seek employments throughout their career, and clarity in communication will be essential in all areas of their professional practice. To that end, skills in public speaking, presenting and effective communication are essential.

An hour long session was run for a group of approximately 20 first year engineering students at Glyndwr University (studying on the Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies BEng programme), as an introduction to these skills, to be built on and consolidated throughout the rest of their time at the University.

The session formed part of a larger programme of guest speakers and practical workshops for the students (See How to Guide on Guest Speakers), designed specifically to give the students skills for employability and self-employment, and a greater appreciation of the real world context for their studies. It was delivered by the University’s ZONE Enterprise Hub Manager, on the invitation of the course tutor.


The session followed the format which can be found in the ‘Workshop - How to Speak in Public’ How to Guide.

The students began the session with an introduction to the themes which would be covered, namely; how to structure a presentation, how to use tools effectively; how to present clearly; how to control and manage nerves, and how to deal with questions.

A brief discussion initiated the session, whereby students offered their thoughts on why public speaking skills were relevant in their sector, and how they might employ them in the future. From here, each of the themes above was covered in turn (with discussion following the pattern as outlined in the How to Guide).

At each stage, examples were chosen which were appropriate to the audience in hand. For example, in discussing structure and tools, a presentation on solar power was considered, and in discussing use of the appropriate language, thought was given to how an engineer would discuss the same technical point, with various expert and non-expert clients.

At the end of the one hour session, the key themes covered were re-capped, and students were offered the opportunity to ask questions, and directed to further support, links and reading if they wished to explore the issues further.


Though the session was limited to one hour only, it still made a valuable impact upon the students. Through initial discussions, students had a clear understanding of the purpose of the session, and its direct relevance and appropriateness to them.

As new undergraduates, many had limited experience of presentation and interview environments, and so the session was timely, giving a broad overview to key points, with clear direction on how to consolidate what was learned. However, the lasting impact of the session will be sustained if the students are offered continued opportunities to explore, hone and develop these skills in a variety of simulated and real-world environments.

Learner outcome:

Immediately after the session, students reported feeling more relaxed about public speaking, more confident, and better equipped going forward. Feedback comments included;

“Very useful”

“Very good. Gained knowledge to help for future presentations.”

“Really good presentation. Well structured, paced, and encouraged audience participation.”

“Good presentation on presentation.”

“Great presentation; well prepared, greatly delivered, well explained.”

“Very informative. Thank you!”


  • For a step-by-step guide to this activity, see How To Guide 'Workshop: How To Speak In Public.'
  • YouTube Video of How to Speak in Public Workshop, Creative Futures Conference, March 2015 >


  • BBC - The Speaker - Improve your public speaking. 2015. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 28 July 2015].
  • Corcoran, Mike. How to Speak in Public - YouTube. 2015. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 29 July 2015].
  • McCarthy, Patsy, 2002. Presentation Skills: The Essential Guide for Students (Study Skills). Edition. SAGE Publications Ltd (pp70-106 & 219-236).
  • Shephard, Kerry, 2005. Presenting at Conferences, Seminars and Meetings. 1 Edition. SAGE Publications Ltd (pp1-18 & 138-148).
  • Van Emden, Joan, 2010. Presentation Skills for Students (Palgrave Study Skills). 2 Edition. Palgrave Macmillan (pp1-61).
  • Zone Enterprise Hub, Topic: ZONE Resources. 2015. [ONLINE] Available at:§ion=11. [Accessed 28 July 2015].

About the Author
This guide was produced by Mike Corcoran. If you would like to contact the author, please use this email address:-