How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking
We all admire speakers who enthrall the audience with their oratory. In school, students were randomly selected to speak in the Assembly and I used to pray that my turn should never come. I couldn't think of facing the entire school and speak a few words. While doing BA Economics at Government Arts College in Trivandrum, I became a member of a debating society but I found most of the guys doing much better than me.
In my second year, I mustered the courage to take part in an elocution competition. The topic was about secularism. All my confidence vanished when I reached the podium. I began to shiver, my legs started shaking. I was facing a packed audience with faculty members, classmates, junior and senior students. I addressed the judges and said a few words but suddenly my mind went blank. I tried to speak again but I was totally lost and I left the stage embarrassed. I still remember the sympathetic looks of the audience and more importantly the giggles of the girls in my class! The whole college came to know of my debacle.
When you hear someone speak eloquently, you get the impression that it is so easy to speak. Lot of well-known personalities in history-Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, Warren Buffet, actress Julia Roberts, all struggled with public speaking and overcame it in their own ways.
While doing post-grad in Journalism in Kerala University, our campus had a few debating clubs and events where I could again try out my speaking skills. Initially, I thought of copying the styles of speakers who performed well but a few of my friends said I have a sense of humour which I can use to great effect. And I tried it out in a Friday Club debate on poor performance of India in sports. I began by taking a dig at the previous speaker and that seemed to go well with the audience. Thereafter, every third sentence I spoke put the entire audience into laughter and that was the moment of ecstasy. I had finally conquered the fear of public speaking.
(Courtesy: Pallikkutam April 2022. To read more such articles, subscribe)