By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)
Public speaking is not a favorite for a lot of people. There are few who actually enjoy going up in front of people and speaking. For me, public speaking- the very words are anxiety provoking-make my breathing become shallow, my heart go KA THUMP…KA THUMP…KA THUMP… and then beads of sweat break out across my forehead.
If I don’t have a pen in my hand to play with, or a piece of paper that I can literally tear the crap out of, I clench my fists, take a deep breath and pray that I don’t forget what I’m going to say, or say something totally off the wall.
Public speaking is not rocket science, but it might as well be for me! As a writer, I’m used to sitting at my computer, and furiously typing out my stories and sending them to print, than I am at getting up and speaking. But I have realized for a while that if I am working on a manuscript and expecting to launch a book in the future, I’m going to have to get used to getting myself out there and speaking.
This is where the adage “feel the fear, and do it anyways” came in handy because when I saw a posting from the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto (NWRCT) that they would be hosting a two day public speaking workshop, I threw my usual caution to the wind, shared the event with a friend and signed up.
The first day of the workshop I felt a lot of trepidation but I met my friend who signed up for the same workshop and went. I remember walking through the front doors of the NWRCT, checking in at the desk, and turning to go into the main room.
Automatically I recognized my self-defeating and anxious thoughts because in my head I heard myself saying
“I’m not going to be able to do this…”
“I’m going to hate this,” and
“If I don’t like the first day, I don’t have to go back.”
Well it turned out, that it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I recognized that I wasn’t alone in the anxiety provoking thoughts, and the facilitator was great at putting everyone at ease. She had us do exercises to help us loosen up and focus, and then came the work-coming up with brief speeches, using the skills she has used herself-breathing exercises, mapping ideas out, using visual aids, having cue cards etc.
The facilitator, Shandra Shears Bombay also had us voice what our fears of public speaking were. This is some of what people said in no particular order
Tripping over words
Speaking loud enough (mine)
Making eye contact
Speaking too fast
After we identified what our fears of public speaking were, we spoke about what can help our public speaking. Below is another short list of what helps public speaking, but before that, we were told the number one thing is that when we go up in front of people, its best to stay away from reading because
“Reading is the Enemy”
What helps Public Speaking:
Cue cards that include the following- one fact, one story/example/one quote/one visual aid)
Using visual aids/drawing
Credibility when it comes to public speaking can involve the following:
Drawing on personal experiences
Proven experience (this can differ with everyone)
Time and focus-time management/acknowledging your audience
Passion and enthusiasm
Having a modulated voice
Being engaging and
Knowing your audience
Public speaking is not everyone’s favorite thing to do, but I know that at some point personally and professionally, the issue of public speaking and having to do it is inevitable.
I may dread public speaking but it’s something I’m going to have to do at one point or another in my freelance career. I know what I need to do. Practice. Practice. Practice.
For more reading on the art of public speaking, please visit the following link
Chi miigwetch to the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto for holding this workshop-we need more of these types of workshops!