UNITED STATES—It’s something most of us fear: public speaking. What is it about speaking in the public sphere that delivers so many jitters for most of us? It’s a question I have been eagerly trying to find the answer to for YEARS. If you were to ask me 10 years ago, if I was comfortable speaking in public, I would tell you no way. Nowadays, I’ve learned the more that you speak in public the more comfortable you become. Why? It allows you to vocally train your voice, and prevent the nerves and anxiety from getting the best of you.
For most individuals this phenomenon tends to start in middle school. I would argue we get smalls doses of public speaking in high school, but it is college, where public speaking heightens in my opinion. For starters, when I was a freshman I took quite a few lecture courses. The one thing that stunned me was I desperately needed to do an extra credit assignment in my journalism class in order to earn a passing grade. In order to achieve that feat, I would have to deliver a class presentation.
Man, I was petrified, I mean shaking in my boots as I took to the head of the class, with more than 400 eyes laid directly on me. Intimidating, YES, but it was also exhilarating at the same time. When it was all said and done, I got a standing ovation and I realized it was not as bad as I expected.
I used to be the guy who would always refuse to take college courses that required class presentations, that is no longer the case, because I have come to accept it’s a part of life. You have to be able to clearly communicate your thoughts in the everyday world. Public speaking gives you the opportunity to gain a level of authority with your voice which can be quite important in specific careers.
Anyone working in sales need to have skills geared towards clear, authoritative and persuasive talk. The same applies to those who work in the educational field. Being a titan in your particular field of study is important, but you have to convey that information to the individuals that you’re teaching. If your speaking skills are subpar, it only creates confusion for your students.
I think the biggest issue with public speaking is anxiety. Now, when I say anxiety, I’m not referring to nerves, this is in reference to the notion that it’s “about to happen” or that “I just want to get this over with.” I would categorize myself in the realm of wanting to get things over with. The delay in the presentation just causes the butterflies to intensify in my personal opinion.
What else have I discovered? People don’t like to be stared at. When it comes to public speaking, the speaker wants the audience to be attentive, but they don’t like the idea of people INTENTLY staring at their every move and word. We get the impression that we’re being evaluated, we’re being watched, that is something that many people would prefer to do without. Am I arguing people to turn a blind eye when people are giving presentations? No, but it’s okay to look away at the speaker every now and then to give them a breather or sense of relief.
The stigma with public speaking is something that we have to change because it is not as bad as we’d like to think it is. Public speaking allows us to develop skills that are used in everyday life, regardless of what position, title or job you hold, speaking is certain to be a vital element.