What is your greatest fear? According to the Chapman University Survey on American Fears, 25 percent of American’s greatest fear is public speaking. That little bit of information is how my public speaking professor started off her class. We proceeded to each then say what our greatest fear, when it comes to public speaking, was. Some people said things that I’m sure everyone can relate to. Things like shaking, stuttering, and losing their train of thought were most popular.
However when it came to me, I had too much pride to admit that something actually made me nervous. Fast forward seven weeks and I’d say my professor might be able to call my bluff. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel my heartbeat quicken or my palms start to sweat as I make my way up to the classroom. I think the most important thing when it comes to speaking isn’t to deny that you get nervous, but learn roll with the punches.
It reminded me a lot of swimming. I used to be really nervous in the water, but the more I swam (Honestly it was the more the Marine Corps made me swim) the more that nervousness turned to excitement. Then that excitement led to confidence.
The same thing is happening when I get up to speak. The more I do it the more confident I get. I’ve noticed that with most of my peers as well. Even though my speeches may get longer and require more details, just having rounds under my belt is a huge advantage.
If you are thinking about taking a public speaking class, I highly recommend it! Especially if you get nervous just thinking about it! It will force you out of your comfort zone and I can promise that you won’t regret it.
Just last month I was volunteering at an event for Clark. Soon after I got there, I learned that they would like me to go up and speak. The Clark College President was going to introduce me, call me up to the microph
one, and I would tell my personal story of how and why I am attending Clark College. President? Me? Speak? To 50 successful business professionals in the audience? I was more excited than nervous at this point. I relied on the skills I learned and practiced in class to help me through. I don’t know if I would have done as well if I hadn’t been practicing throughout the quarter. As this fall comes to an end, I am confident in my ability to get up and speak to an audience.
If you do find yourself enrolled in one, I have a few pieces of advice. First, if note cards are allowed, use them! You might do well for the first few speeches but once you get to a seven minute speech with multiple facts and citations they can be a valuable lifeline. Secondly, read the book! Just because it’s a speaking class doesn’t mean you won’t take tests! Not to mention the book has valuable knowledge for being a successful speaker. My third and final piece of advice is something my old public speaking instructor, Oz used to say; “Fake it ‘till you make it”! At the end of the day, if you really don’t have any confidence, just pretend that you do! I guarantee that you are much more critical of yourself and your audience isn’t picking up on all the little things running through your head.
So take a deep breath, stand with your head up, shoulders back, and look your audience in the eyes!
Good luck on your upcoming finals and may the odds be ever in your favor,