Many graduates from the YDAS Young Leaders Program are interested public speaking. Here are some tips to get you started presenting your ideas to the public.

To become a public presenter, you may want to think about:

  • Your best way to communicate.
  • What you want to express or the point you want to make.
  • Who you want to present to and where you can find these people.
  • How you will feel about negative reactions to your presenting.
  • How to begin by creating your first presentation.

1. Public speaking does not have to be done just with your voice.

Presenting to people can take lots of forms. It can be with a microphone, on a stage, talking to lots of people in an audience. PowerPoints, slides, animations, recording screen shares, and videos are some ways you can present. You can also use text to speech to present.

It doesn’t matter how you communicate. Presenting to the public is more about finding a way to communicate to lots of people that works best for you. This is part of your own unique style of presenting.

Illustration of a young person on stage. They are a wheelchair user.

2. You need a message or point that is worth presenting!  

It is not enough to just want to present, you need to think “What do I actually want to express?”

You may want to share your story, make a point about an injustice, or explain how you solved a problem, so that others can learn. You should narrow it down to one main point.

It can also help to explain why you want to express that one point. It helps your audience and people who will hire you decide they want to hear or see you.

3. You are there for the audience. Public speaking or presenting is public.

You are not presenting to yourself or your friends and family. You will probably be presenting to people you have never met. You will need to think about how your audience will receive your message.

An audience is like a smaller group of people who share similar interests. For example, a punk band has a very different audience to a military brass band. Both audiences like very different things, including their taste in music. What is your audience interested in?

There is always an audience for any idea you might have. You just have to go and find them. You can find your audience by thinking about your interests, and where you go to enjoy those interests.

For example, if you are presenting about disability rights, you can go to a conference for disabled people, like VALID's Having a Say Conference. There, you would find lots of people who share an interest in disability rights.

If you are presenting about how to fix global warming, you could present at School Strike 4 Climate. At the strike, you would find lots of people interested in fixing global warming. 

Nathan, a young person who is Deaf, sitting near a camera and green screen.

4. Pick your medium. A medium is a tool you use to express yourself.

A video is a medium. A letter is a medium. A speech is a medium. Other mediums include TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. There are heaps of mediums to choose from.

You can pick the medium that suits your communication style. For example, if you like speaking and using images, then making YouTube videos is an excellent medium. If you like writing, then creating a blog is a great idea.

You can also pick a medium based on where your audience already is. For example, if you want to present to activists in the low vision and blind community, then you can choose a medium that uses audio and sound, like a podcast.

If you want to present to students passionate about climate change, you can choose a medium like YouTube or TikTok, because a lot of students use those platforms.

5. Be aware that not everyone will like your presentation.

Putting your message out in public means there is a risk that people will not like it, or disagree with it, or respond to it.

Whenever anyone presents to the public, they are sharing their message to strangers. Make sure you have family, friends, or other public presenters that can support you when someone replies negatively.

It is also a good idea not to respond to negative comments or criticisms, as it rarely helps, especially online. Instead, look for and remember the positive comments.

It is also okay to stop presenting if you find it difficult or harmful. Lots of public presenters will take breaks and come back to it later. 

A young person using Auslan

6. Get started!

The best way to start is simply to start presenting! Make a video about something you are passionate about and put it up on YouTube. Prepare a speech and ask someone if you can present it at a meeting or event. Write a post and get it up on Tumblr or social media.

You do not need to get any special permission to present to the public (unless you are under 18, then you might need permission from your parent or guardian). Anyone is allowed to present in public, though. It does not matter what age, background, or disability you have. Anyone is allowed to present, speak, share, write, and give the gift of knowledge.

Simon Green has the chronic illness cystic fibrosis. He has been a public presenter and media maker for 15 years. He has talked about filmmaking, running companies, cystic fibrosis, chronic illness, creative bravery, and accessibility. He has been in videos, podcasts, international conferences, and national news. He currently coordinates the YDAS Young Leaders Program and the Together Program at YACVic.