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Public speaking can be a daunting ordeal for some people. However, it is a skill that is not only highly sought-after, but is also essential to advancing your career prospects and developing your leadership ability. Regardless of which field you work in, knowing how to speak well in front of other people is a critical skill that can elevate your career prospects to new levels.

This is why we decided to organise a bootcamp that helped participants overcome their fears of speaking publicly, and learn how to communicate a message in an impactful manner to an audience.

We were fortunate to have Ali Parandeh (PhD, MIAP, CC, CL), winner of 2017 Spain Toastmasters English Public Speaking Contest and President of The Achievers Toastmasters Club Marbella, to moderate the bootcamp. Over the course of the weekend, Ali taught us:

  • how to feel comfortable on a stage
  • how to control “umms” and filler words
  • how to use body language to enhance our message
  • how to use visual aids approprately
  • how to write, prepare and deliver an impactful speech


The First Nervewraking Day

A room of 25 people, most of whom had some degree of fear of public speaking, all signed up to speak in front of a room full of people. What could go wrong? Ali went easy on us – at first. Our first task was to stand up at our seats, introduce ourselves, say what we did for a living and explain briefly what we hoped to get out the course. Reasons ranged from wanting to get more confidence in social or meeting situations, to improving communication skills, to learning how to overcome public speaking anxiety.

We then had some lessons on voice projection, vocal varieties, filler words, and body language. The next step was to stand in front of the audience and repeat the same introduction, now with the benefit of the knowledge we just gained. Ali emphasised the importance of being comfortable on stage. Each of us had the chance to spend some time in front of the audience and get comfortable standing on the stage without having to say anything.

Our next exercise involved us standing up and presenting a 30 second speech about a topic we are passionate about. We focused on making eye contact with the audience, owning the stage, watching our “umms”, and ending our speech with a call to action.

During a short break, Ali shared with us one of his favourite speeches by Dananjaya Hettiarachchi, the winning speech at the 2014 World Championship of Public Speaking:


The Second More-Confident Day

Day two started with us repeating our introductory exercise from day one. We were all much more confident this time around. What a difference one day can make! We then proceded to do a table topic exercise where we all wrote a topic on a piece of paper, put it in a jar, and one-by-one got up to pick a topic out the jar. We then had 3 minutes to talk about our topic. By this point, we were all getting more comfortable talking in front of each other and the table topics turned into a rather comedic experience. Already, we could see how much we had improved from the day before.

The last big task of the bootcamp was learning how to write and present a full speech. We broke up into small groups and picked a topic for our speech. Ali helped us construct the speech from start to finish, focusing on how to piece together an engaging introduction, a body that sums up the message properly, and a punchy ending that resonated with the audience. We had the chance to then perform the speech, either as a group or as individuals.

After an eventful two days, we finished up the bootcamp with a certification ceremony. We each received our certificate of attendance and got the opportunity to have one final impromptu speech saying what we learned from the event. Many of us mentioned the helpful techniques, new acquaintances, and good memories built during the weekend.

We’d like to thank Ali for sharing his time and expertise to help each of us overcome our individual issues and prepare us for taking the next step in our public speaking journeys.

Lastly, we’d like to thank our sponsors who make events like this possible: Playtech and William Hill – our gold sponsors; and our event partner, Colorworks.

Our next event is the annual Hacking for Humanity hackathon. Read more about it here.