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Public speaking on vacation scheme

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  • I suggest you work on improving all areas. Firms these days are looking for all-rounders.

    You obviously don't have a lot of time to practice public speaking before your vacation scheme so, perhaps, just try to be as confident as possible when speaking. Practice in front of the mirror in the days beforehand and know what you're going to talk about, that way you'll be more confident. Also, ask a family member or friend to watch you practice. That way, they can point out things you should be more aware of (e.g. nervous pacing) to help you appear more confident.

    Lastly, don't do this at the expense of other qualities the firms are looking for. This is going to sound pedantic but from your question you seem to lack attention to detail. For instance, I'm pretty sure the correct phrase is 'write it off' and you made a typo when typing 'concentrate'. Watch out for things like that on tasks you're given.

    Good luck on your scheme!

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  • Public speaking is a great way of displaying good communication skills and your desire to impress during the up-coming vacation scheme will most likely depend substantially upon this solo-effort. My advice is to conquer your fears, take some confidence out of the fact that you've got this far already, and to leave the past behind and try and found a new more confident you in front of your peers when it really matters. Talking from experience with a similar problem which I have been able to overcome, I would say that alot of it is down to positive thinking. Don't let your mind play tricks on you!

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  • Good advice from the comments above, and I would emphasise that you need to know your topic very very well, and your presentation should be well-structured. Even if you are a bit shaky, good structure and knowledge will not go unnoticed.

    As for your nerves, practise your entire presentation in front of a mirror, to a blank wall, to an empty room etc etc; ensure you are within any time limits, make an effort to speak slowly and clearly, and pause for breath when you need to. Don't breathe quickly/shallowly: take deep breaths, and coupled with a well-paced delivery you should be fine.

    It might be hard to apply this advice perfectly the first time round. Don't worry if it is, because:

    a) being nervous is a sign that you care

    b) making presentations to a room full of lawyers is a skill that you can easily develop

    c) if you do make mistakes, you can actually use it to your advantage by citing point b) as an "area for improvement" if they ask you anything along those lines

    For example, let's say you're visibly nervous and make one or two points less clearly than you would have liked. There will most likely be an opportunity to talk about that later ("How did you feel the scheme went? What have you learned?" etc). And because presentation skills have nothing to do with understanding the substance of the law, virtually anyone can get better at public speaking with a bit of coaching. The firm probably offers that kind of professional development anyway - it's worth asking and it shows some integrity on your part.

    In terms of you chances of the firm wanting to offer you a TC, think of it this way: you've established a "weakness" which can easily be eradicated and/or turned into a strength. So it's not a weakness in the medium or long term - it won't be a liability for the firm. And it's something you can improve in your own time.

    So now you have an answer to a common (yet important) interview question in the bag!

    One last point: they will base their opinion of your overall performance and suitability for a TC on more than just your public speaking abilities. Always keep that in mind.

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