Things I Learnt From Being a Keynote Speaker

At the beginning of February, I was a keynote speaker for UOW’s Discovery Days. Discovery Days is where year 12 students come to the university to experience a day in the life of a uni student (a pretty cool experience if you ask me). At first I was over the moon! I’d always wanted an incredible opportunity like this to speak to students in an inspirational manner. But then it dawned on me… am I inspirational? Am I interesting enough to Year 12 students? What am I going to say? Over the course of 5 days, I would speak to over 6000 students from all over NSW and the ACT. And if I’m going to speak to that many students, it’s got to be good! I had so many ideas, doubts, worries, nerves… it was all pretty overwhelming as I’d never done something like this before. It was a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

Now that it’s over and done, I’ve had some time to reflect on this scary, exciting and exhilarating experience. I learnt so much. And lessons that don’t  just apply to being a keynote speaker, but lessons I will carry with me for as long as I can.

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Day 1 of 5

Lesson 1 – Practice makes perfect. 

And if it’s not perfect, then it’ll be pretty damn close. I started writing this speech in December last year, so it was pretty well embedded in my mind when it came to February. I knew this speech. I had notes sitting on the stand just in case, but other than that I was just relying on the pictures on my slide and my trusty brain. I must’ve practiced this speech at least 30 times before I practiced in front of an empty audience before I actually delivered my speech. Sure I may have made mistakes but because it was etched in my mind, I was confident with what I’m doing. So whatever it is you’re trying to do, practice really does pay off.

Lesson 2 – Think positively. Always.

Whilst preparing for my speech and even waiting backstage before I was called up, all of these bizarre negative thoughts would cross my mind. “What if I fall over? What if I have a coughing fit? What if I am so nervous that I pee my pants?” Right?! Ridiculous thoughts. All you can do is push those negative thoughts out of your mind. Realistically, the worst thing that could happen was that I might stumble on a word, or lose my train of thought… and in realistically, it’s not the worst thing that could ever happen.

Lesson 3 – Surround yourself with positive people.

I was lucky enough to speak alongside of my amazing friend Campbell. He’s hilarious, talented, kind, energetic and did I mention hilarious? He was the MC to get everyone pumped up and man did he nail it. I was so grateful I could go through all of these emotions with him by my side. We would pump each other up before our speech, give each other support and encouragement and a massive hug once we’d finished! My bosses were our side stage wingmen and women who were there to snap some awesome pictures and to give moral support. And knowing that I had friends and family watching was such an amazing feeling. It’s all of these amazing people that you surround yourself with, who are going to encourage you to push your boundaries and support you.

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Campbell and I rocking the stage!

Lesson 4 – Balance is key!

During DDAYS, I would be at uni at about 7:30am until about 3:30. They were pretty big days that were high energy and concentration. It helped me realise that you have to listen to your body and what it’s telling you. Having such a crazy week really made me focus on getting a good nights sleep, eating healthily and taking some time out for myself to relax. By being aware of trying to balance these things, it really helped me be the best person I can be. Something I definitely need to be doing a lot more of.

Lesson 5 – Be true to yourself and proud of yourself.

The biggest lesson I learnt throughout this whole experience, is be true to yourself and be proud of what you believe in. As I was writing and preparing for my speech, I kept doubting myself, wondering if people would like it, if they would get it, or if it would be any good. And then I realised, this is my opinion, my experiences and my perspectives. Of course not everyone will relate to my experiences, but they might find my story interesting. And better yet, my perspectives may actually resonate with people listening or they may even find me inspiring. No matter what it is you’re setting out to do, if you stay true to who you are and what you love, you can’t really go wrong, and you may even spread some joy.

Being a keynote speaker is something I’m incredibly proud of. Getting the amazing opportunity to spread my ideas, experiences and perspectives has been a dream come true and I thank each and every one of you who support me with whatever it is I set out to do.

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