Public Speaking : Taming the Dragon

I had envisioned a different post, but somehow I ended up here. I was not aware I was headed this way till I was midway, so I decided to go this way.

Public Speaking. It can send shivers down someone’s spine. And still others do it effortlessly. So what exactly is the truth behind this villain?

I am not an expert on talks, or speeches or public speaking. All I have done is take a couple of seminars in my class, have given a couple of speeches, votes of thanks, and compeered a little. That is all. And I am still learning. One thing I learnt is that all of this, comes under one label.

Performance.

And I grew up performing, and watching performances. I am a huge pro-wrestling fan, and I love the way they cut their promos. The way they walk out into the centre of the ring, get a mic in their hands, and proceed to enthrall an audience is just amazing. I usually watch Chris Jericho, C M Punk and Paul Heyman giving their promos. And Barack Obama. God, he’s a genius. They are epic and I learn a lot from them. But you can choose any performer, talker, motivational speaker or any one .

One more thing. I know how hard it is. I know how hard it is to walk out in front of an audience and deliver something. I’ve been there. I’ve been through all that. There was a time when I had lost all of my confidence  and would try to avoid speaking at all. I felt as if everyone was out to judge me. One mistake could mean suicide. One slip of the tongue would be deadly. But right now, I can’t remember those days. When you’re taking centre stage, it’s no longer about the people looking at you. It’s all about you. It’s about giving the best performance you can give. You are not up there to be judged. These people came to see you. These people look up to you. At least you have the courage to go up there and speak.

 

When I go ahead and take a seminar, or a class, I do some things beforehand.

  1. Know the material beforehand. You can’t go and take a seminar without knowing the material. And I don’t mean knowing it by heart, you need to really have a deep understanding about it.
  2. Clear your doubts first. Unless you are clear about the things you are saying, you can’t make the audience understand.
  3. Make a mental picture. I usually go over the whole thing in my mind a number of times. I even prepare and keep in mind some of the spots in the presentation. Particularly the opening, closing and some of the more difficult parts.
  4. Anticipate questions. Go ahead and put yourself in the audience’s shoes. What are their doubts likely to be? What can they ask? Prepare for that.

 

Once you prepare, the journey is half done. But the most important part is how you deliver this to your audience.

  1. Smile. Don’t look nervous. At all. Once you seem nervous to your audience, it’s over. They’re never going to take you seriously. So even if you have a huge family of butterflies in your stomach, look confident. You don’t have to be confident. Just look confident.
  2. Speak loud and clear. And avoid a drab, monotonous voice. Vary your pitch and modulate your voice to suit the idea you are expressing.
  3. Think on your feet. I’ve done this a few times. When the audience seems dead, I asked them, “Am I the only person in this class right now?”. This is not meant to elicit a huge response or anything, don’t expect that. You get a few smiles, that’s good for you.
  4. BE CALM. Everything is fine. Why? ‘Cause you’re the one giving the talk. You’re in control, that’s why.

 

Just remember this:

When you are up on that stage, you’re the man/woman. You are the one.

And nothing can go wrong.

Trust me.

More importantly,

Trust yourself.

 PS: Please drop by with any queries, I’ll try my best to help…

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