I was born and raised in Tanzania, and growing up I was always fidgeting with computers, light switches, even the plumbing in our house. When something broke, I would try to fix it, almost always without success, before my mum called a mechanic or plumber.
I’m currently studying mechanical engineering and frequently have to give presentations in front of my classes. When I first started doing presentations, I was terrified. In addition to having little experience presenting, English is not my native language. I decided to take a public speaking class in the Technical Communication Program (TCP) to get some help. The class shifted my perspective around public speaking. I came to see that it was natural to feel anxious and that I wasn’t the only one. I learned techniques to help me more effectively channel my nerves before and during a presentation. Ultimately, the class has shown me that public speaking skills are not fixed—just as I can learn to fix electronics or other systems, through practice and with a little coaching, I can also train myself to speak confidently in front of crowds.