Public speaking is hard.
Honestly, standing in front of a group of people and being able to relay ideas, thoughts, or concepts is so difficult, especially when there are so many distracting factors that come into play:
The stuttered speaking
The uncontrollable rush of adrenaline
The rapid heart-pounding conscious beats to the chest.
All of these things makes every moment feel drudgingly slow and mind-numbingly painful, like walking through molasses in the sun in front of thousands of people.
Time seems to stand still as the words spoken either spill over in slurs or tongue-tied awkward silence takes over the general public. Is there really any way to overcome these inevitables?
For me, yes.
Sure, it’s intense. It’s scary. In fact, it drives me bonkers when I have to speak in front of people.
And I find myself speaking a lot — presenting projects publicly at hackathons, standing alone in front of 200 students at Longhorn Startup with a 2-minute idea pitch that people could care less, overseeing workshops for Google Cloud Platform or Convergent in which no one is giving me any guidance in order to present the subjects that need to be covered. It makes me wonder where I stopped being a Computer Science student, and started becoming an advocate and evangelist of ideas.
But I do it anyways. I live for these opportunities to speak.
Reading a lot of productivity and speaking books have relayed many ideas to me, and two of the big things from the books I’ve taken away is:
To not care so much about what others think of you and just be you.
To practice a lot, because you will fail a lot in life, but in doing so you will learn to succeed.
And with all the times of spoken, I’ve learned a few quirks about myself and tips to ease my shaky speech-filled worries.
I learn to fidget my way through my adrenaline — twiddling my fingers, tapping my toe inside my shoe (this works O.O), focusing on deep breathes in order to get ready to stand before the crowds. With an output for the energy, I divert my distractions elsewhere and learn to focus on the actual topic I get to speak on.
(Also, this is why I think fidget spinners that can charge batteries are the next big thing... lol :P)
I learn to embody passion. Or more so, to have a passion for what I speak about. I don’t do it only to inspire others, but to show that I’m not faking what I’m saying.
I care about what I say I’m doing.
Noone is going to listen to you if you don’t care about what you’re saying.
I remember that the audience cares. Or at least, they want to care.
In fact,in my mind, I think that they’re silently rooting for me. Not in the sense that they know me personally and are on the bleachers with NBA or NFL posters spray painted burnt orange and black with the words “You GO Glenn Coco” on it. But internally, there’s that unspoken hope that what I say is well presented, that I’m not awkward, and that the presentation is informative an enjoyable.
They came to this event, so they hope to get something out of it.
I learn to take ownership of my mistakes. I know I’m not perfect, and there’s nothing I can do if I accidentally slip up. There’s no use in crying over spilled milk, but it’s good to recognized when a mistake is made. When I address my mistakes, I learn from it.
When I learn from it, I’m not beating myself against the standards others have for me, but I’m upholding myself to my past presentations, and hoping to improve upon what I should’ve done better on. Obviously, I need to do my best in preparation for the speaking I have to do, but it’s not as big of a deal as I think it is.
I learn to be myself.
I mean, I can only change myself so much.
“Sorry audience, but what you see is what you get.”
In fact, I can’t satisfy everyones needs, especially when I don’t know who each and every single person in the crowd is like (only Jesus knows that lol). Trying to become this certain image and pretend that I’m some person in order to appease a group of people is like that flashback to middle/high school, where much of what I did at that age was try to fit a certain image or pattern
Which sucked cause it wasn’t me.
Of course, I’m in a weird situation because I’m generally an awkward guy...
But I learn to embrace it.
I do my best to imbue my personality and humor into talks so that people can feel like they’re in a conversation. The hope is that the time is personable and meaningful.
I don’t want to be a lecturer. I want to be seen as one of them.
I learn to elaborate and make split-second decisions. Interview, talks, lessons — everything I say may or may not need to be clarified. It’s key that what I say doesn’t oversimplify a topic while additionally making sure the audience doesn’t get drowned by the depth of the subject.
I want to that steady stream of information that people can easily intake, be challenged, and in the end, understand.
Finally, I learn to enjoy speaking.
If I love what I do, that I’m 10Xs more likely to be prepared, 10Xs more likely to do well, and my audience will (hopefully) be 10Xs more satisfied by the results of the talk I give.
I mean, if you think of it as an opportunity to spread ideas, inspire, and impact people, who the heck wouldn’t want to take it?
And sure, there’s a lot of scariness behind giving a talk.
In fact, a lot is at stake when you want to impact others.
But it’s worth it.
Life is about learning, taking chances, and living it out to the best that you can. When you speak, at worst case, you fail, you learn, and you have a story to tell to others.
And at best case and you ignite a spark for others.
Either way, if you do ever speak, no matter what context, make sure to give yourself a pat on the back for taking that bold step to impact the world. You did well pats back.
And if you are still hesitant on speaking, it’s ok. Take your time. As I said, speaking is hard. I didn’t start speaking much until this semester.
But if you do get the opportunity to speak, if the door opens for you to speak to the crowds. Please, don’t hesitate.
Don’t let that door close before you can even grasp the handle.