Effective Public Speaking (2 Timothy 1:7)
Public Shyness, in relation to speaking or acting in public which is sometimes regarded as stage fright, has nothing to do with the personality, intelligence, height, size, age, beauty or whatever unique trait a person possesses. I found out recently that it is a general problem confronting almost everyone cutting across all ages, background, gender, etc. Those who happen to speak powerfully in public did not start out so – they have only mastered sure-fire ways of managing, marshalling and transmuting this fear to their advantage. Most professional speakers admit that they feel a tinge of fright at the beginning of their speech delivery. Truth is, everyone feels or knows this phenomenon.
Recently, I was to appear in a birthday get-together organized by a female friend in Jibowu Hall to capture the events. I felt I needed the company of an attractive, intelligent, young lady, so I called on one lady who I thought matched the qualities mentioned. To my utmost bewilderment, she declined my offer, confessing her inability to withstand the public eye. She said she just gets nervous in the presence of people, and as a result loses her coherence and confidence. I wondered for a moment that was this not the same girl I often spotted leading a train of friends in conversation and the like. She apologized and suggested I sought someone else. To cut it short, I went to the party a lonely man. Later, I got to realize that other ladies were in this poor girl’s shoes, guys not exclusive.
Now, let’s take a cursory look at ways of overcoming this phenomenon which so many people have struggled or literally wrestled with. The first thing you must bear in mind is that public shyness is a thing of the mind. If you can view it in this perspective, then it is gradually losing its awful grip on you. This is the starting point of your liberation. Have you ever wondered why you speak so confidently and convincingly to people on a one-on-one basis, and fail most miserably when trying to pass across the same message to a larger audience? Well, it’s all in the mind: the battle is won or lost in the mind. You should first acknowledge that this problem is a natural phenomenon, which one could deal with effectively. The mental conditioning that ensures victory is achieved by giving your mind mental food to ruminate upon. You could suggest to your mind positive thought processes to gradually replace the negative ones you naturally accommodate by default. Affirm to yourself that you have what it takes to speak well in public, that you can convey your message in a strong, powerful and convincing way, and that you can deliver your speech in a logical and intelligent fashion, all in an attitude of outgoing concern for the listening audience. Before you stand up to face the crowd or an audience, ask yourself honest questions like, “Why am I so scared to speak to a crowd? What will the crowd do to me? Are they going to give me a slap on the face? How is it that I have no guts or boldness?” Question your fears and answer them honestly. The answers you provide will forge a way forward in understanding the problem and tackling it down to the roots, thereby neutralizing those fears to a bearable minimum. Then you’d see or realize that there is really no rational reason to entertain so much fright.
Another guaranteed way of nipping stage fright in the bud before and during your presentation is that you take healthful doses of deep confidence breath at regular intervals with your diaphragm (the layer of muscle between the lungs and the stomach) and not with your chest. As chesty breathing during such tensed situations are quite shallow to allay the fears or dissipate any butterflies in the stomach.
Also, another excellent way of dealing with this problem is to simply face the fear. Seize every opportunity to speak or address an audience. It has been said often that “Practice makes perfect”. This is particularly true in this scenario because the more you avail yourself of opportunities of public speaking, presentations or appearances, the better your chances of becoming a better communicator and professional speaker.
At this juncture, the importance of public speaking in the areas of career advancement, academic pursuit, project defence, customer relations, international relations, foreign policy, project proposal, product marketing, service delivery, knowledge dissemination, news broadcast, teleconferencing, and suchlike cannot be overemphasized in this all-important information and communication-driven age of our present day.
Written by Henry Weiss
(Author of Christian Excellence and Morality)