Public Speaking; that dreaded part of our professional lives! In my previous post I covered a lot about this but I feel that there's more to talk about especially the psychological aspects.
Most of us look at Public Speaking as a burden. Give a presentation for your project and if it’s bad you’ll lose marks, a burden. Go to the client and update them on project status and if they’re not happy, well…forget about your promotion, a burden. 99.99% of us aren’t fortunate enough to introduce Adele on a world stage.
Public Speaking is always a burden to us and that is the first and the biggest reason why we fear public speaking. Once something is a burden we become reluctant to do it. We do the absolutely bare minimum just to get it done and over with. It's kind of like studying for exams. You look at past year papers, understand the type of questions and study JUST ENOUGH to score what you're aiming for (I got a first class master's degree from UoN...Trust me, this method works for uni exams.) As much as this method works for exams, it's ineffective in making you that stage-owning, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring presenter. So what should we do? Instead of taking it as a burden we should change our mindset towards Public Speaking.
It’s an opportunity to stand out among your classmates by delivering a smashing presentation. It’s an opportunity to get your promotions faster by mesmerising your client with an engaging presentation. It is the opportunity to inspire the people, change the world and become a difference-maker.
Have you wondered why you’re reading a Public Speaking guide written by an Engineer? (Yup, the master's degree I told you about is in Mechanical Engineering). That’s because Public Speaking is an opportunity. Let me tell you the story about how I got into this. In 2012 I joined engineering for all the right reasons. I wanted to be an astronaut. I love space travel and everything about the outer space. I was good in physics and even better in maths. So you tell me why I shouldn't have joined engineering?
Few months into my university life, I’m sitting in a lecture on material sciences. Now, the subject was very dry and uninteresting to me because it didn't involve any maths (Remember I love maths). So I’m thinking about a reason/excuse to just get out of the lecture. I flip my iPhone and read through my long list of emails. While skipping all the advertisements, irrelevant announcements and boring psychology experiment invitations, I see this one email titled “Do you want to win ₤300 in cash? All you have to do is to give a 20 minute presentation on any engineering topic, to a group of non-engineers”. I’m thinking with myself there’s no way I can do this. I’ve only been in university for few months. I don’t know anything about anything in engineering. But then again, I can go and see the relevant staff for this. I FOUND MY EXCUSE TO LEAVE THE LECTURE!
I left that lecture and for some reason I just decided to enter that competition just for the fun of it. As it turned out, my personal tutor was very encouraging and helped me in my preparation for my presentation. I chose my presentation title to be “Space Travel” (Didn’t you see that coming?) and for some reason the judges thought I was good enough and awarded me first place in Malaysia and sent me to Thailand for the south east Asia level. In Bangkok, the judges thought I was good enough and sent me to Hong Kong for the Asia Pacific level where I managed to score a third place among the champions from all over Asia and Oceania. Through the course of that competition I managed to win ₤600 in cash and two all-expenses-paid trips. Pretty good for a first year engineering student, don’t you think so?
Now because of that competition, I discovered my passion for public speaking and communication. Public Speaking was the opportunity that offered to me to travel, see places and meet people while learning valuable lessons along the way. Not only it brought more opportunities with it for me, public speaking itself was an opportunity. I now work with an engineering firm as a business developer (because of my public speaking and people skills) and as a mentor, trainer and professional speaker (because I love to talk). Public Speaking created more opportunities for me and it will do the same for you.
All you need to do is to switch your mind around and not look at public speaking as a burden which annoys you but as an opportunity that excites you.
As usual, do let me know what you think about this and if you find it useful, well then share it with your friends. To finish this off, I'll just share my favourite Public Speaking quote.
Till next time...
This writing is a part of Ali's work-in-progress compilation book, Picnic with Panic. Sharing is permitted only via the link to Breezi Speaking website. Reproduction of this work and its presentation as original content on other media is permitted with prior permission from author. Kindly contact Breezi Speaking for matters of Intellectual Property.