Tips for Public Speaking

While success in Capstone 1 hinges on your ability—with your group—to present your ideas to a panel of CPAs, preparing for and knowing how to present is an asset throughout your CPA education and in your career. If public speaking doesn’t come naturally to you (and it doesn’t for most people) you’ll know that the typical advice to “imagine the audience in their underwear” just doesn’t work. Below we outline some tips that you can really use the next time you need to get in front of a crowd.

DO

  1. Do your research.
  • If you haven’t prepared for your presentation it will show. Know your subject instead of memorizing facts so that if you “lose your place” you can recover easily. If you’re presenting with a group, consider getting familiar with what your group members will be covering so you can jump in if needed.
  1. Rehearse.
  • Say the material out loud before your presentation to find sticky sentences and smooth them out.
  • If the presentation has a time limit, use a timer when you practice.
  • Practice with your group to ensure you are not overlapping ideas or going over time. Pay attention to the transitions between speakers so the presentation flows as one large presentation rather than unconnected small ones. Practicing with a few people in the room will also help calm nerves about speaking in front of others.
  • Record yourself using your phone or PowerPoint’s recording feature to assess your delivery.
  1. Stick to the basics.
  • Focus on sharing only what the audience needs to hear. Tangents can take up precious time and distract from your message.
  1. Conclude with a strong message.
  • Give your audience a take home message. Whatever your strongest point was, be sure to repeat it while wrapping up so they have at least one thing they learned in mind.
  1. Focus on success.
  • Most audiences, even if they are evaluating you like the Capstone 1 panelists, want you to be successful.

DON’T

  1. Don’t read directly from your notes.
  • You don’t need to have every word memorized but staring down at your notes can make you seem unsure and make the presentation feel less personal and polished.
  1. Don’t use fillers.
  • Repeating fillers, including “um” or “like,” can make it sound like you don’t know your work and may make it seem like you don’t have anything important to say.
  • When rehearsing, have someone else track how many times you use fillers.
  1. Don’t rush.
  • Especially in presentations with a time constraint, you might find yourself rushing to get through your presentation.
  • If you get overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a pause or a breath to help you get back on track.

Additional resources: CPA Canada offers a free online course to help candidates with presentation skills. And there may be public speaking workshops or Toastmasters groups in your area to help you boost your confidence even more.

What helps you get through a presentation? Share your ideas with us using @cpawsb.