Have you ever had one of those moments where you wish you could crawl into a dark hole and never be seen again? That’s how I felt when one of the most embarrassing moments of my life happened.

I’ll never forget, Year 12 speech finals… I had made it! Couldn’t believe that my speech was good enough, but there I was standing in front of my whole year level delivering the presentation of a lifetime. I got to the part in my speech where I needed to do a quick spin on the spot to create a memorable moment in my dialogue. It soon became one of the worst public speaking incidents ever. As I spun around my school uniform skirt flew up in the air and every single person in that auditorium saw my knickers… I wanted to cry, scream and hide all at the same time!

Public speaking doesn’t always go the way that we plan and sometimes disastrous things can happen. I’ve tripped going on stage, fallen over a microphone cable, been so nervous that I’ve sweated through my t-shirt and I’ve even had a coughing fit while trying to speak to an audience of 400. Yet I still get a thrill every time I address an audience or get up and present.

Here’s what I’ve learnt about public speaking so far:

1. Sometimes embarrassing things can happen. Laugh it off and move on; it’s not the end of the world, even though it may feel like it. Self-confidence is key.

2. What you tell yourself leading up to a presentation is so important… I like to call it my ‘self talk’. I always remind myself that I am a confident person who can deliver this speech with attitude… Even if I’m terrified, nervous and feel like peeing my pants.

3. Be careful what you wear while presenting. I went to a workshop last year and the presenter was wearing shortie shorts and a low cut top. Hot pants and bikinis are for the beach, not for presentations. Unless you are presenting at the beach… then I guess that’s okay!

4. Be prepared. Practise your presentation, make notes and memorise it. It’s never a good idea to write notes on your hand, though. I’ve done that before and I got so sweaty they came off: FAIL!

5. Being a great communicator takes time. Is takes 10,000 hours to master any skill, which means more than a year of continuous presenting with no sleep to become an expert.

I’ve learnt that public speaking can be a massive challenge. Stay tuned to this TEARAWAY series on Communication; I hope it will give some advice on becoming a more confident and resilient pubic speaker at your school, university or workplace.

Kirsty is the Managing Director for Develop HQ, a Training and Development Company. She is passionate about youth communication, public speaking and leadership skills. She has presented and delivered workshops to over 80,000 people throughout New Zealand and Australia.

Develop HQ’s next youth public speaking workshop called ‘Let’s Talk’ is on Tuesday 4th of October. For more information, check out