“Hey, what’s up? Are you preparing some speech or what?”
“Ýeah yeah, actually there is a zonal event of IIT Roorkee this Sunday, and they have kept ‘open mic’ as one of the segments for participation, so just preparing something for it.”
“Cool yar, wish I could have also participated, it must be adventurous to speak in front of a crowd”,
“Participated? Come on, you can still fill up the entry form, they are allowing entries till Saturday”,
“Great! Give me some nice topic to speak, I’m going to rock the stage that day”.
I gave her a social issue writing and helped her prepare it. She was frightened and very nervous – and as usual, she pulled herself back at the very end moment, because she also thought that the biggest fear is fear of public speaking.
Next day, when I met her, she just had a simple excuse of pulling herself back, “I don’t have as much as confidence as you, I need time. Just because you can speak, doesn’t mean anybody also can. Each person is defined differently. Some prefer spot lights, others prefer to stay back and be tagged as ‘introverts’.”
“You’ll have to gather confidence, public speaking is a must in life. Forget about public, you need to communicate with your team, your manager and your clients tomorrow.” I didn’t stop there, “At least go on stage, and speak something. Till you don’t try, nothing good is going to happen”. Blah, blah, blah, and I kept on selling my public speaking skills until a powerful credit note (interruption) came from her side,
“Oh, I had enough of your listening about public speaking. You speak doesn’t mean public speaking is a must. Have you ever got through a phase where you didn’t speak just because everybody else would laugh and make a joke of you? Get through that phase dude, and you’ll realise what is the actual fear of speaking.”
And yeah, she was right – I didn’t go any such phase. The phase she was talking about was a phase, where we want to speak but we can’t do it due to fear of spot light or fear of stage. But some years ago, I didn’t even want to speak – I would love to be the last person to read even a paragraph in the class room. I didn’t know what confidence is – and to hell with confidence – I didn’t even need it. I was happy with myself until I fall in love with that girl. I wanted to impress her at any cost. And finally I gathered all my courage to narrate a love poem at a club on Friday where she used to visit often. I prepared the poem – read it – re-read it 5 times and I was sure I was going to rock that day.
Just before entering the club, I was stumbling – my voice fumbled, suddenly I felt that digestion was the biggest disease I suffered from, then I realised that NO, heart attack was severe then digestion as I was just experiencing a heart attack.
I spoke that day with all my courage – and what I could spoke was, “Sorry everybody, my friend who was about to narrate that poem, is unwell and won’t be able to come. Sorry for inconvenience” and ran out of the club, as fast as I could.
After that next Friday, I again went to the club and spoke the poem – spoke it so terribly that everybody including that girl’s love partner felt discomfort and they focused on my discomfort to remove their own discomfort.
Gradually, I decided to write my public fear experience, and to describe every bit of feeling that happens with me. I wrote it down and decided to narrate on next Friday. This time, I narrated it, and since I was speaking what I was feeling, hence the audience felt my feelings and sensed it in my speaking.
And that day, I conquered this fear of public speaking.
So is it just about passion? Is public speaking an option? No it isn’t – it is a compulsion. And upon hearing ‘public speaking’ you only imagine 500-1000-1500 people gazing at you while you are feeling nervous standing on podium, you are wrong – perhaps you have imagined an incomplete situation.
Tomorrow, you will have to speak in board meetings, negotiate with the suppliers and might have to convince stakeholders or government officials. Forget that, you’ll be leading a team tomorrow – and you’ll be part of a team that your boss leads. Think again will speaking be an option or will it be compulsion?
What is the secret to public speaking or getting spotlight? – Forget that it is a crowd.
Don’t believe in those old school public speaking theories – public speaking is like studying psychology – human brain is the syllabus and tacking that brain is the real test.
I know, I know you have certain questions popping up in mind and which need immediate answers. I can speak in public or can prepare myself to address a crowd but what if I forget what do I have to speak? – Oh yeah, you got it right – that’s a crime – no, no that’s a blunder – they’ll hang you – and you’ll be on the front page of Times of India – “Man Forgets Speech, Gets Death Penalty”.
No, I know that won’t be the case – but still it feels awkward – Oh, then write the entire speech and just read it – it is old school belief that ‘expressions’ and voice modulation is the blood of public speaking and yeah, it still holds true. Slowly, gain confidence and you’ll start remembering.
What about all those who stare me at as if they saw a human for the first time? – feel elite, feel honoured, they are staring you because none of them dared to come on stage and face the public – you conquered them right away when you walk on the stage.
Speak for yourself – speak to gain your inner confidence. If it was about fluency in English or speaking those big dictionary words – Rahul Gandhi would have been a better orator than Narendra Modi, Bill Gates & Steve Jobs couldn’t have been the best speakers of the world and yeah if it was about speaking or even knowing ‘normal’ English, you wouldn’t be reading my article – if vocabulary or for that matter, even if tenses or grammar were a separate subject in school, I would still be struggling to clear my 8th class.