Public Speaking 1: Get Rid of Fear & Boost Your Confidence
“Public speaking is more than saying ‘a few words’ to an audience, it is the revealing expression of a human personality.”
Last year, my batch has been invited to do a program in Sekolah Rendah Agama Seksyen 13, Shah Alam. It includes teaching Basic Life Support to the primary school students and doing the medical check up to the parent. The program finished in the afternoon with a closing ceremony and suddenly I was invited to give an ‘impromptu talk’, generally it’s just a few words to the audience, to express my gratitude to be invited and the speech shouldn’t be long, maybe 2-3 minutes.
It was pitiful. I stood up and managed no more than a couple of sentences. I apologized for not speaking at length. Deep inside, I felt horrible, awkward and confused. Frankly speaking, I was at a loss for words. It is one of the worst experiences for me to be invited for a speech when I’m not expecting it. At that time, I realized three weaknesses in me; first, I have to get rid of my fear, second, I have to boost my confidence and determination and lastly, I lack of knowledge on effective speaking as a public speaker. From the day onwards, I vowed myself to improve as much as I can. I cleave on to Abraham Lincoln’s word;
“If you are resolutely determined to become somebody in the future, the thing is more than half done already…Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other thing.”
How well I can succeed is largely determined by my own thoughts. I refused to undertake anything thinking defeat. I saw myself in my imagination, in the future, giving speech in front of 100 000 people with perfect self-control. For that, I had set my mind and hoping that Law of Attraction would work upon me.
“It is easily in my power to do this. I believe I will succeed. I believe it firmly and I will then do what is necessary to bring success about.”
Words to remember, from Professor William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910), a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher trained as a medical doctor, he said;
The great men of history manipulate the thoughts of society. “Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives. The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”
In months of training to speak in public, I have picked up some ideas, from my reading to help us quickly overcome stage fright and develop confidence in a blink of eye. First, let’s get to the facts about fear of speaking in public.
Fact No 1: Up to 95% of adults suffer from stage fright, so we are not unique in our fear of speaking in public.
Fact No 2: A certain amount of stage fright is useful because it let us to get ready into action. It is like a physiological preparation; to think faster, talking more fluently and speaking with greater intensity.
Fact No 3: Not all professional speakers have completely lost all stage fright. The fear always present just before we speak, persists for a few sentences but for sure, it will resolve right after that. Remember a word from nobody;
“Two minutes before I begin my speech, I would rather be whipped than start; but two minutes before I finish, I would rather be shot than stop.”
Fact No 4: The chief cause of fear is simply that we are unaccustomed to speak in public. The only solution is practice, practice and practice. Don’t forget that fear is misbegotten of ignorance and uncertainty.
From my experience, expect a certain amount of fear as a natural adjunct of desire to speak in public and learn to depend on a limited amount of stage fright to help us giving a better talk. Practice and have a proper preparation can reduce the intensity of fear and stage fright.
Finish about stage fright; let’s proceed with boosting our confidence. Surely, we realize that training and practice will wear away our audience-fright and give us self confidence. For that reasons, I hope these four guideposts can be useful in guiding us to develop our self confidence and conquering the fear.
Guidepost 1: Take heart from the experiences of others who successfully become a figure for public speaking from a shy chap one.
Guidepost 2: Keep our goal before us. See ourselves as a successful speaker. Put full concentration and attention on what self-confidence and effective speaking will mean to you socially, business and leaderships. Think of the satisfaction and pleasure that will be ours when we stand up and confidently share our thought and feelings with the audience.
“The ability to communicate effectively with others and win their cooperation is an asset we look for in men moving to the top.”
One more quotes from Professor William James;
“In almost any subject, your passion for the subject will save you. If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it. If you wish to be good, you will be good. If you wish to be rich, you will be rich. If you wish to be learned, you will be learned. Only then you must really wish these things and wish them with exclusiveness and not wish one hundred other incompatible things just as strongly.”
Predetermine your mind to success. Quote from Dale Carnegie;
“The biggest lesson I have ever learned is the stupendous importance of what we think. If I knew what you think, I would know what you are; for your thoughts make you what you are. By changing our thoughts, we can change our lives.”
Remember the speech given by Tariq Bin Ziyad to his soldiers upon their landing at Gibraltar (Jabal al-Tariq) in his operation to conquer the Hispania (Spain);
“Oh my warriors, whither would you flee? Behind you is the sea, before you, the enemy. You have left now only the hope of your courage and your constancy. Remember that in this country you are more unfortunate than the orphan seated at the table of the avaricious master. Your enemy is before you, protected by an innumerable army; he has men in abundance, but you, as your only aid, have your own swords, and, as your only chance for life, such chance as you can snatch from the hands of your enemy. If the absolute want to which you are reduced is prolonged ever so little, if you delay to seize immediate success, your good fortune will vanish, and your enemies, whom your very presence has filled with fear, will take courage.”
Such was the spirit of immortal Tariq Bin Ziyad. Why not make it us, too, as we set out to conquer our fear of audiences? Throw every shred of negative thought into the consuming fires and slam doors of steel upon every escape into the irresolute past.
Seize every opportunity to practice. Opportunities to speak are on all sides. Join organizations and volunteer for post that will require you to speak. Stand up, don’t take back seat and speak up! We won’t know what progress we can make unless we speak, and speak, and speak again.
My last word, nothing great can ever be achieved without enthusiasm and ‘heart’. So, fill every action of us with earnest and enthusiasm. With that, I am sure; we can undertake and accomplish things that we never dreamed possible.
- How To Develop Self-Confidence & Influence People by Public Speaking – Dale Carnegie