I won the 3 Minute Thesis competition at my school, and together with two other students, went on to compete with other universities in the Singapore final.
I didn’t win, eventually. But I think this was still a very special experience and more importantly, it fueled my passion to get better at public speaking.
Upon recollection, I think there are three things that I could have done better. First is something I immediately knew at the end of my speech: I went a bit too fast. During practice, I always came very close to the end of my three minute limit. My last sentence often begins at the 2:50 mark, which leaves me barely 3 seconds extra when I finish. However, during the actual speech, as I glanced at the clock upon my last sentence, I noticed that I had close to 20 seconds, and that’s obviously too much. During practice, I actually keep track of time at certain milestones in the speech. For example, at 1:00, I should finish introducing streamflow reconstruction; at 1:45, I should start talking about the Colorado River Compact example, and so on. The thing is, during practice, I kept time with a voice recorder app, so the time was counting up. During competition, the timer was counting down. As a result, I was not familiar and, in order to not distract myself, decided to not keep track anymore. And in the hype of being on stage, I ended up talking faster. So, action plan (1) practice with timers in both directions, and (2) just find more opportunities to talk on-stage so that I can control the tension.
Second, I think I was slightly disconnected from the slide. There’s a provision in the score sheet for the slide. Both winners referred to the slide quite significantly during their speech while I just used it for the starting sentence and as a backdrop. There are places where my speech referred to the slide but I didn’t point to the pictures. Now that I think about it, moving towards the slide and pointing to it could have made my speech a bit livelier.
And overall, I could have relaxed a bit more, or “let it go” a bit more. Again, that will come with more exposures to this kind of activity.
I’m sad, yes, but I’m positive about the experience.