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How to improve skills in public speaking in psychology

This article has been adapted from episode 123 of The Aspiring psychologist Podcast. If you prefer you can listen here or watch here. 

Public speaking - a phrase that can evoke excitement, dread, or a mixture of both in many people. It's a skill that's not only valuable in professional settings but also crucial for personal growth and development. In the world of psychology, where effective communication is paramount, mastering public speaking becomes even more essential. In this article, we delve into the experiences of Dr. Marianne Trent and Jasmine Iveson, exploring their journey through the realm of public speaking as aspiring psychologists.

Embracing the Challenge

Dr. Marianne Trent, a qualified clinical psychologist, and Jasmine Iveson, an assistant psychologist, come together to share their insights on public speaking. As they embark on this conversation, it's evident that both individuals have traversed through their fair share of apprehensions and triumphs in this domain. Jasmine recounts her initial encounters with public speaking, reflecting on her journey from being a reserved student to an assistant psychologist navigating the complexities of multidisciplinary team meetings and presentations. Her narrative underscores the common thread of nervousness and self-doubt that often accompanies public speaking, especially for introverted individuals like herself.

Overcoming Obstacles

The conversation takes a poignant turn as Dr. Trent shares a personal anecdote about receiving criticism regarding her speaking voice. This experience highlights the impact of negative feedback and the resilience required to move past such instances. Through vulnerability and self-reflection, Dr. Trent illustrates the importance of not allowing one critique to overshadow the multitude of positive affirmations. Jasmine echoes this sentiment, emphasising the significance of seeking context and feedback for personal and professional growth. Her journey of realising the unsustainable nature of excessive preparation serves as a valuable lesson in prioritising self-care and managing performance anxieties.

Nurturing Growth Through Support

Both Dr. Trent and Jasmine emphasise the pivotal role of supportive environments in fostering confidence and competence in public speaking. Supervision sessions emerge as safe spaces for candid discussions and skill development, empowering individuals to confront their challenges and embrace their vulnerabilities. The concept of "glass and rubber balls," introduced by a colleague, resonates deeply with Jasmine, prompting her to reevaluate her approach to public speaking. By distinguishing between essential tasks and unnecessary pressures, she learns to prioritise self-preservation without compromising her professional responsibilities.

A Journey of Resilience and Growth

As the conversation draws to a close, it becomes evident that mastering public speaking is not merely about delivering flawless presentations but also about embracing imperfections and honouring one's authentic voice. Dr. Trent and Jasmine's narratives offer a glimpse into the transformative power of vulnerability, self-reflection, and supportive relationships in navigating the complexities of communication.

Their experiences serve as beacons of hope for aspiring psychologists and individuals grappling with their own insecurities about public speaking. By embracing the journey with courage and resilience, one can transform perceived weaknesses into strengths and pave the way for meaningful connections and professional success.

In the second half of this article, we'll delve deeper into practical tips and strategies shared by Dr. Trent and Jasmine, offering actionable insights for individuals seeking to enhance their public speaking skills.

Embracing Imperfection in Public Speaking

Public speaking is a crucial skill in many professions, including psychology. However, the fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia, can be daunting and overwhelming. In the second half of our conversation, Jasmine Iveson and Dr. Marianne Trent dive deeper into strategies for overcoming this fear and embracing imperfection in public speaking.

Normalising Imperfection

Jasmine shares her experience of feeling robotic in her presentations, striving for perfection but feeling thrown off when things didn't go as planned. Dr. Trent emphasises the importance of normalising imperfection, acknowledging that it's okay not to have all the answers immediately. They discuss the value of honesty and authenticity in communication, even if it means taking a moment to gather thoughts or ask for clarification during a presentation or meeting.

Finding Confidence through Purpose

Both Jasmine and Dr. Trent stress the importance of remembering the purpose behind public speaking engagements. Whether it's providing valuable information during staff training or advocating for service users in meetings, focusing on the bigger picture can help alleviate anxiety. Jasmine shares her personal strategies for calming nerves before speaking engagements, including breathing exercises and visual imagery, emphasising the power of mindfulness in reducing anxiety.

Self-Compassion and Growth

Throughout their conversation, Jasmine and Dr. Trent emphasise the importance of self-compassion and self-care in managing the stress of public speaking. They discuss the value of seeking feedback as a tool for growth, while also acknowledging the need to set boundaries and prioritise mental health. Dr. Trent highlights the significance of recognising personal growth and celebrating achievements, even in the face of challenges.

Exploring Alternative Roles

Recognising that public speaking may not be everyone's strength, Dr. Trent and Jasmine discuss the importance of exploring alternative roles within psychology that align more closely with individual comfort zones. They emphasise the need for open communication with supervisors and colleagues about feelings of anxiety or overwhelm, and the importance of seeking support when needed.

Conclusion: Embracing Growth

As their conversation draws to a close, Jasmine and Dr. Trent reflect on the journey of personal growth and overcoming fear in public speaking. From acknowledging imperfection to finding confidence through purpose and self-compassion, they offer valuable insights and strategies for aspiring psychologists navigating the challenges of public speaking. Embracing imperfection, seeking support, and prioritising self-care are essential steps on the path to becoming confident and effective communicators in the field of psychology.

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