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Things We Dread About Public Speaking -by Arnel E. Genzola, M.A.Ed.
Summary : Many of us find public speaking stressful and terrifying. When we bring to mind an occasion where we are expected to face a crowd, the tension grows especially when it hits close to the big day.
Feeling a lump in our throat seems to be so common when public speaking strikes at the time we feel we are most unprepared for. A dry throat, shaky voice, trembling knees, sweating palms, and instant blushing are some of the thoughts that come to mind when we think of addressing a group of people. There’s also the misgiving of boring people or putting them to sleep. Even if we know there is nothing to be afraid of, we still shudder at the thought of blanking out or making a fool of ourselves in front of others. It shouldn’t be as scary as what we all thought it to be. Nervousness is not an enemy; it is our closest ally to befriend the things we dread about speaking before a crowd.
Perhaps you’ve scoured a lot of resources digging for tips and techniques to overcome the fear of public speaking. You have to acknowledge at the outset that the existence of fear is just but normal. It gets the adrenaline flowing and the rush gives extra drive; so, a healthy level of nervousness is encouraged. Everyone feels that same fear at certain intensity. Apparently, this is true even to those who are experienced speakers.
The lack of preparation always spells disaster. It is a sure-fire way to feed the jitters. Public speaking will be your greatest nightmare unless a commendable degree of groundwork will be executed prior. Once the gist of your talk is at hand, get the things you need to do out on a paper. Research and explore the subject matter as if it were a profitable idea and sort through every possibility until you hit your way to that goldmine of valuable bits and pieces of what you want to tell them. Know your audience as well as the material and think out of the box on how you want it delivered. One old belief that never fails to bring an atmosphere of new hopes for future speaking engagements if we get it through is,“Tell them what you want to tell them; tell them; and tell them what you’ve told them.” It goes to show that the first essential step in bringing down the tension and succeeding in speech-making is simply to prepare.
Run through your speech out loud to yourself or picture yourself on stage in front of family members or some friends. On no account you can read your speech to people because they all know how to read- talk to them. Visualize every detail down to what you are wearing, the gesture or body language you put across, where you stand and the utterances you express. You have to be observant on how your friends or family members look like or how they react to what you convey and the way they respond to the manner you say it. Vividly imagine a standing ovation when you finish if encouraging and confirmatory looks are obtained but solicit their opinions and feedbacks if otherwise. It goes without saying that this calls for practice, practice and practice.
Remind yourself of yourself. Be who you are when you are up on a podium. Always be the first-class version of your own self and not the second-rate adaptation of someone else. We had heard speakers after speakers- from the remarkable to the extraordinary, the greats and the illustrious and the distinguished and the famous whose trademarks had left us with things worthy of emulation. However, we still need to wear our own self. Many people try to imitate other great speakers’ distinct ways; but they seemed to have disregarded that if they try to become a different person, they will feel uncomfortable and the audience will know they feign it. By simply being you, an inimitable character is surely out in the making.
Relax, cast off your inhibitions and enjoy your audience. Maintain eye contact and connect with your spectators. Yiddish proverb has it, “The eyes are the mirror of the soul.” They certainly are. This is one non-verbal skill which often speaks louder than our words. A tone of confidence is exuded when you sustain eye contact. It bridges the sincerity of our intimate thoughts and ideas to the minds of those they are spoken to. Apart from this, breathing is also as important as maintaining eye contact. Breathe deeply and get the air to come from your diaphragm or else voice tremors will give your speech a raspy and shaky quality. Our voice is the gauge of our self-confidence since it encourages trust. Unnecessary gestures and distracting mannerisms such as poor posture, inaccurate articulation, showing of the tongue, biting the lips, swaying of the hands, vocalized pauses (such as “uh,” “ah,” and “umm.”) etc., must also be avoided. If you want to convey confidence and power, eliminate these disturbing and inappropriate gestures.
Adding the list of what spurn people from pubic speaking is making a mistake. Nothing really bad happens if you make a slip-up. A blunder humanizes you and makes you more likable to the listeners. Taking the challenge on speaking is like putting yourself on a lion contest. Just because you stutter or you blanked out doesn’t mean you don’t know how to roar. There is always a room for speech upturn only if we recognize a slump at some point not as a dead end but as a momentary speech downturn which is part of what makes us find our way around to better our skills. Everyone in the audience had dealt with the creeps of public speaking so they’ll understand.
Finally, exposure, exposure, and more exposure! Keep throwing yourself into the big dome and in no time at all- your potential, talent and ability will find its way to come out in the open. Never toss away an opportunity to speak because exposures will disentangle yourself from the spell of speech anxiety. There is no other way to empty one’s glass of fear but to gulp each speaking opportunity that comes at times in rarity. So every chance you get, take it away because it will certainly drain that fear and fill you with brimming confidence!
On Linguistic Competence (www.elib.gov.ph) http://www.elib.gov.ph/results.php?f=author&q=Genzola%2C+Arnel+E.
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