Public speaking

Professional skills courses

Course information

Number of sessions: 4
Hours per session: 3,5
Course fee:

  • free for PhD candidates of the Graduate School
  • € 575,- for non-members
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information.


Telephone: +31 10 4082607 (Graduate School)

In the academic year 2023-2024 this course will take place offline.

Edition 1 (offline)

Session 1 
November 29 (Wednesday) 2023
Polak building (campus map), room 3-09

Session 2
December 6 (Wednesday) 2023
Mandeville building (campus map), room T3-02

Session 3
December 13 (Wednesday) 2023
Mandeville building (campus map), room T3-06

Session 4
December 20 (Wednesday) 2023
Polak building (campus map), room 1-17

Edition 2 (offline)

Session 1 
May 17 (Friday) 2024
Polak building (campus map), room 3-09

Session 2
May 24 (Friday) 2024
Polak building (campus map), room 1-20

Session 3 
May 31 (Friday) 2024
Polak building (campus map), room 2-09

Session 4
June 7 (Friday) 2024
Polak building (campus map), room 2-09

Enrolment available from December.


However good you are in presenting, as soon as you step in front of an audience something inside you tends to change. It seems like you’re not completely yourself: your brain is not as quick as you would like it to be, you lack control, are unfocussed at times and/or start to talk faster without pausing. It might even be that you have nerves, moments of panic or black-outs that make presenting into something you’d rather avoid. 

During this four day course we will look into your natural way of doing and try to bring that to the stage, helping you to feel more relaxed and focused when interacting with your audience.

We will have discussions about presenting and you will get lots of practice in order to develop a toolbox of techniques that will help you to become a better presenter. This course enables you to present yourself as who you are and nothing else, in front of whatever group, with a good feeling, with persuasion and with control. Final result: a presentation everyone will remember.

Working method

The workshop uses the following formats:  

  •   Discussions on the topic of speaking in public;
  •   Presentations and physical exercises;
  •   Feedback on public speaking skills and style;
  •   Take-home assignments.

Learning objectives

During this 4-day course, you will learn how to reduce your nerves and/or perfect your presenting style using the 4 Focus technique and the Pyramid Principle. You will learn how to:

  •   Use different introduction styles (“Why you should listen to me”);
  •   Use the Pyramid Principle: Prioritise your content and structure the information logically (optional homework);
  •   Design your slides: Create slides that function as a springboard for your story (homework);
  •   Prepare for your presentation: Improve your focus and/or reduce your nerves;
  •   Effectively transfer your information: Use silence, body placement and posture;
  •   Interact with your audience: Use questions, eye contact, silence and body placement;
  •   Tell your story with the help of 4 focus points: Audience interaction, slide visualisation, hand visualisation and mind visualisation.

Suitable for

The course is suitable for all PhD candidates. No specific knowledge or experience is required to participate in the course.

How to prepare

In advance of the first course session you will be require to prepare an assignment, which will be forwarded well in advance of the first session. 

Session descriptions

Homework (1 hour)

Analyse your current presentation skills and skill desires

  • Read theory about forming a pitch
  • Form your pitch

Session 1

  • Getting control over your stress and gaining focus
  • Exploring ways to pitch or introduce
  • Using eye contact to connect with your audience

Homework (1-3 hours)

  • Read about the Pyramid Principle and watch an instructive video (optional)
  • Fit your information into a logic Pyramid (optional)
  • Formulate your storyline in the headers of your slides

Session 2

  • Silence
  • Structural hand usage
  • Adjusting pace to audience

Homework (2 hours)

  • Design your slide lay-out
  • Add supportive content to the slides

Session 3

  • Using 4 Focus points: Audience, Slide, Hands, Imagination
  • Using your body to shift focus

Homework (2 hours)

  • Improve the content of your slides
  • Design your slides as springboards to the story, paying special attention to the 4 Focus points.​​​​​​​

Session 4

  • Managing your audience
  • Body placement to keep the attention
  • Dealing with interruptions from the audience

About the instructor

While studying applied physics at the TU-Delft, Gerben Tuin also practiced the art of theatre. He finished his studies and then decided to become a professional actor. By combining the knowledge he gained in theatre with the world of presenting he developed the 4 Focus technique and the Active Speech framework

His method is not only useful for presenting in front of large groups, but also makes you aware of who you are, as a presenter of yourself and your work in daily life: your self-presentation. Currently Gerben works as an actor, director, (script-)writer and presentation trainer.