Public speaking is often said to be a fear that strikes everyone. But instead of seeing it as a pain to suffer, why not see it as an opportunity? An opportunity to share one’s thoughts. An opportunity to stand up for what one believes in. An opportunity to find one’s voice.
I thought it would be useful to look at my personal journey of speaking, and how that has changed over the years. I also thought it would be helpful to share some tips I have found useful. In particular, I also think it would be helpful to look at my favoured style of speaking.
I was first introduced to public speaking in high school, where we were given this chance to share our opinions with the principal on trending topics. For me, it was a platform where I could speak honestly, and have fun at the same time. The 15 year-old me thought it was a great idea to have everyone’s attention on me. However, standing in front of 1000 pairs of eyes, and sharing one’s opinions was still nerve-wrecking. I always remember shivering slightly in my seat, rehearsing my points in my head before standing up to speak.
Coming to the UK, and joining the Public Speaking Society supercharged the growth process. For one, I found a community of like-minded people who were unafraid to share their deepest thoughts. It also forced me to practice, weekly, no matter how I felt.
- Take every opportunity to try!
Each time there is a chance to speak, even if it is to a small crowd of 5 people, seize it! It is a precious opportunity to try. More importantly, it is a chance to fail. One of my favourite quotes is from Samuel Beckett, who says ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’
After all, what is the worst thing that happens if you make a fool of yourself? People laugh. People tease you. People joke about you. Does it matter? Let it roll.
- Ask for feedback.
We are not perfect. That is why we need others to let us know how we can improve. Ask others – what did I do well? How can I do better?
Life is not a competition where you race against others. Instead, it is a race with your self of yesterday. Focus on the process. Not perfection. Celebrate the little successes. It is the little successes that lead to bigger things.
- Speak about your passion.
There are many techniques I can share about how you can improve your speeches. But passion is something that no one can inject into your speeches. I am confident that there are things you are excited about. The thing that gives you a childlike excitement when you think about it. Speak about it. Share that passion. Convey that passion to your audience.
Public speaking is a precious platform where you take precious minutes away from your audience. The time they spend listening to you will never be regained. Make it count.