Home Opinion Opinion: Public speaking is easier than you think

Opinion: Public speaking is easier than you think

Public speaking is the worst. Why do we have to stand up awkwardly during the first week of school to introduce ourselves? We’re just here for our education — not to spiral through the seventeen stages of anxiety until our forsaken name gets called.

Do you relate to this?

You’re not alone. Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is a very common phobia. According to psychologytoday.com, it affects up to 75% of the population.

My name is Chester Chan. I’m one of the tutors from the Presentation Practice Center. Sure, I love public speaking but I haven’t always felt this way. Once upon a time, I was a very shy and introverted boy. I would puke profusely even at the mere thought of public speaking.

I’m here to share with you how I found my passion for public speaking in good old Rexburg.

Mindset

Before you can hope to achieve anything you must first manifest it. Convince yourself not just to love it but that you’ve always loved it. You can never achieve anything if you have to drag your feet. Be flexible; be excited; be inspired.

A mindset cannot be changed in a single thought. To change it, you have to allow yourself to get influenced and inspired.

A personal example I used that helped me in my journey would be watching comics and stand-up comedians. As you allow yourself to admire a great public speaker, remember that if they can do it so can you.

Photo credit: Chester Chan

Exposure

Inspiration is good, but to live the dream you must first wake up and take action. Expose yourself and take opportunities to put yourself out there. Don’t get too gung-ho — baby steps first. You can’t run before you walk, and for public speaking, it is totally okay to waddle like a baby first.

Whenever possible, take the smallest opportunity to speak. Bear your testimony or speak up in class. Even public speaking for 30 seconds at a time is great practice.

Done is Better Than Good,” is a quote by Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Big Magic. She teaches that we often procrastinate in the name of perfection and by doing so we are not allowing ourselves to try. So go and try. A failed attempt is better than no attempt at all.

The more instances you put yourself out there and speak, the more comfortable you’ll become. As you start to feel comfortable and find safe spaces to talk, you’ll surprise yourself with how good you already are.

Kayla Nicolls, PPC tutor
Kayla Nicolls presenting during Better to Best Event hosted by the Presentation Practice Center Photo credit: Chester Chan

Practice

The Presentation Practice Center is located on the first floor of the library in McKay 164. It is directly below the tutoring center, on the east wing of the library.

The PPC is a resource available to all online and on-campus students. Unlike the tutoring center, students are not required to be in a public speaking class to engage in the PPC’s services.

The PPC has walk-in hours from 2-5 pm Monday-Friday for students without any appointments. The PPC offers both group sessions and individual sessions.

Sophie Perez, PPC Secretary
Sophie Perez, PPC Secretary Photo credit: Chester Chan

Resources

On campus, there are many classes that can help boost your public speaking ability and comfort. Here is a list of public speaking classes offered by the Communication Department.

Comm 102 — Public Speaking

Comm 273 — Professional Presentations

Comm 175 — Communication Essentials

These three classes are each worth three credits and are honestly very easy classes, with the help of the PPC and many extra credit opportunities.

Public speaking is a prerequisite to professional presentations. Communication essentials, on the other hand, is a class for non-communication majors and helps give a basic foundation in interpersonal communication and public speaking.

For those without room to add a new class, Treehouse Talks is a local Rexburg community that invites students to speak every week in a small local setting. This is a great resource for improving.

Techniques

It’s normal to be nervous, and it would be awkward if you were not. You’re probably nervous because you care, so when speaking, show your audience how much you care instead of how scared you are.

According to the University of Pittsburgh, “Most of your anxiety is not visible to the audience. You may feel like you are shaking uncontrollably but people in the audience probably cannot even tell. Gain confidence from the fact that you are the only one who knows how nervous you are.”

Hacks that I’ve learned over the years:

— Before a speech, come early and talk to the audience. Speaking to an intimidating audience quickly becomes just a group of friendly faces. This helps twice over as it loosens you up before a speech.

Power Poses. Stretch and bust a move before a speech. To feel like a superhero you have to first look like one. Weird, I know, but it has been proven that power poses helps boost confidence before a speech.

Practice makes perfect. Have you heard that saying?

It’s totally true, especially when it comes to public speaking. Here is a life hack I share with those I tutor that your public speaking professor might not share.

The best way to practice a speech is to remember that it’s not a speech, it’s a conversation. Whenever possible, talk about it — don’t just practice a speech. Only practicing makes the result become rigid. Instead, take it like a fun conversational topic.

A speech should not be taken like an exam. Exams make people nervous, while most people never get nervous while talking to their peers about a fun topic.

All speeches should have that same energy.

Talk to your friends, roommates, significant other or anyone that will give you the time of day about the topic.

Don’t tell them it’s a speech. Every time you have a conversation on the speech’s topic, take it as if you are practicing it. As you talk about it you will naturally refine your speech.

On the day of the talk, the speech becomes just another conversation with your audience. You’ve been talking about the topic all week. You’re ready.

Remember the best speeches are not speeches at all. See them as a conversation or a storytelling session.

Everyone is rooting for you. Go speak. I am eagerly waiting to hear your talk.

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