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My Takeaways from the Illuminate Universe x CPA Ontario Art of Public Speaking

The Public Speaking work-integrated learning experience and leadership journey created by Illuminate Universe in collaboration with CPA Ontario has significantly deepened my understanding of public speaking. Going into the learning experience I expected to learn about the importance of public speaking, instead, I finished the experience with a deep understanding of the specific tools and structures that should be applied when preparing for a presentation. I learned that successful public speaking requires a long and thoughtful process consisting of several small but crucial steps. This will vastly improve the quality of my future presentations, which will increase the engagement and positive feedback from my audience. 

The learning experience also taught me the importance of minute details, such as the contrasting colours in slides or the position of images, that trigger a variety of responses from the audience. 

Public speaking is required everywhere: work,  extracurriculars, and leisure time. It’s a necessary skill, and this learning experience teaches useful strategies for preparing presentations. 

Looking back to where I was when I began the journey I have a far greater understanding of public speaking. Before beginning the experience I only considered the finished product, ignoring all of the time and effort it takes to achieve. Since completing the learning experience I find that I analyze presentations differently, immediately considering the work put in by the presenter in the build-up to set their presentation apart.

Key Takeaways

I took three central ideas away from reviewing the learning experience:

  • Extensive Process: It is a common misconception to think that you only need to choose a topic and complete the research, and after that, the success of the presentation comes down to how you perform at the moment you present. This is not the case. Most successful public speakers take a number of steps to prepare, such as designing a clear and concise purpose statement, applying relevant proofs (ethos, pathos, and logos), choosing an organizational structure that fits well with the information being presented, and refining delivery to best convey your topic to the audience. And, of course, hours of practice.

  • Anyone can speak: Another common misconception is that whether a presentation is successful or not comes down to whether the presenter is an introvert or an extrovert. I consider myself a bit of an introvert. While extroverts may find public speaking easier in the beginning (since they are already comfortable with talking to people), that does not mean introverts cannot be great speakers. As long as the speaker prepares smartly and effectively, there is no reason that being an introvert should negatively impact the presentation.

  • Visual Elements: A great presentation is not solely based on the written content being presented; how the content is presented plays a crucial role in the success of the presentation. Visual tools such as Powerpoint, Google Slides, and Canva should be used effectively, and this means paying attention to even the minute details, like font size, contrasting colours, simple slide transitions, and placement of images.

Encouragement of Positivity, Resilience, and Growth

The Illuminate Universe x CPA Ontario learning experience encourages positivity, resilience, and personal growth among learners by highlighting the steps in the build-up to the presentation. Emphasizing the build-up teaches students that the success of presentations is largely based on the steps taken in preparation for the presentation. This message encourages students who are struggling with presentations. They learn that if others find success with these tools, they can also find success. 

Personal Reflection

After reviewing my learning experience, I noticed a significant improvement in my public speaking skills. This is primarily due to my mindset changing. I no longer see public speaking as an innate skill that you either have or not. I now know that public speaking is a long process, and if each step is completed diligently, there is a high likelihood of the presentation going well. This shift in mindset has led me to focus more of my efforts on preparing for my presentation, which in turn has provided me with added confidence for future presentations. I know that if I continue to follow the steps outlined in the Illuminate Universe x CPA Ontario learning experience, then my public speaking skills will continue to progress.

Career and Leadership Development Advice

Public speaking is useful in a variety of careers, from business to education, to media, to political professions, and medical and science positions. It’s useful everywhere! For readers who have career aspirations in any of these fields, I would tell them to start practicing their public speaking skills–now! Treat every presentation or public speaking opportunity the same as you would a job interview or presentation for your boss, whether for school, work, or an extracurricular activity. Apply the steps and tools outlined in the curriculum to your presentations, including a purpose statement, proofs, a script, the 6Cs in business communication, and an organizational structure that fits your presentation. In addition, accept public speaking opportunities when presented to you–the best way to improve your public speaking skills is to go out and do it.

In conclusion, the Public Speaking learning experience created by Illuminate Universe and CPA Ontario equips learners with the tools to foster exceptional public speaking skills, a crucial attribute for most professions. The learning experience discusses the importance of public speaking and outlines the tools and structures that should be used in preparation for any presentation. These relate to the visual and written elements of a presentation, both of which contribute heavily to its success. These tools provide learners with a framework they can always use when designing presentations. Furthermore, the learning experience empowers learners by emphasizing that being an introvert or extrovert does not determine the success of a presentation; it comes down to whether the presenter is well-prepared and authentic. The learning experience has completely changed my view of public speaking, and I look forward to applying the tools to my work and seeing my public speaking skills improve.


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