Public Speaking (WAW)

public speaking, Amy Cuddy, speeches, Ted Talks
I thoroughly enjoy Amy Cuddy’s speeches.

For this week’s Write Anything Wednesday, I’d like to talk about a weakness of mine: public speaking.

Frankly, I’m not very good at it outside of speaking to a group I’m comfortable with. Even then, it’s very hard for me to give important speeches to that same group.

I can write with authority. I can sound professional on the phone and get things done. I can hold a pretty darn good one-on-one conversation via teleconferencing software. But speaking to a group, live, comes with some difficulty.

I also hate the sound of my voice, especially recorded. It’s sounds kiddy and far different from what people normally hear in a direct conversation. That may be one reason I have never shared a recording of my voice via YouTube.


In School

Remember how hard it was speaking in front of the classroom? I certainly do. All eyes were on me, so there was pressure for me to deliver. I usually stumbled on my words and forgot what I had to say, even if I had to recite a poem.

When I was in the fifth grade, someone had the bright idea of nominating me for class secretary. Not only was it hard for me to speak in front of the class, but it was also hard for me to write a speech in the first place.

What made things harder was the reality of the situation: I knew I would never be chosen over a more popular classmate. I was never really popular in school. Doesn’t it suck when you know which way your classmates will vote when you have to run for class office?

However:

There were a few times when I was most comfortable speaking in front of a class. Most of those times, I managed to make my audience laugh. That seemed to make me more comfortable, as well.

One such instance was when I was in the seventh grade. For my reading class, we would have to write (poems, short stories, whatever) from time to time and then present to the class. One week, I wrote a short story I fairly proud of. I was even more confident that week because I tested my story on my mother and sister to raucous laughter.

I forgot the day it happened, but days after I tested my story on my mother and sister, I was called up to read my story to the class. I was unsure of how my bigger audience was going to respond, but there was a job to do. Gladly, there were a few laughs during my reading. My teacher really loved the story and my presentation. My reading was a success and even some reactions after class had let out.


Now

Even with past successes, it always takes time for me to warm up to a new group and to become acclimated to speaking with them.

As I mentioned above, I have a greater comfort with speaking person-to-person, even in a work setting (except for interviews). The same is true when talking to a small team.

My speaking skills need work when it comes to addressing a larger group.

All that said, I would rather deal with nervousness due to the focus of an audience when compared to have no one’s attention at all.

There are times when the members of an audience are so preoccupied with their own conversations, that it doesn’t matter what the speaker is saying. That’s happened a few times and it’s kinda rude.

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4 thoughts on “Public Speaking (WAW)

    1. Yeah, involvement from the audience helps, too. Whenever I can ask and question and know that my audience wants an answer to it, that helps to get them involved. I immediately know that my listeners are paying attention and that they need my help with something.

      Visual aides help, as well.

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  1. The only speech of hers I’ve seen was the one (I think from which your screen grab comes) where she talks about the the Wonder Woman pose. You know what? I did that before a really big day last year, and I felt silly. Still, I did it, and felt strong. Maybe because I’d done something which made me feel ridiculous, but persisted anyway?? In any case, thanks for the reminder to check her out again. I’m one of those who doesn’t mind public speaking, but that not-quite-comfort took time to establish. The only way to feel more at ease with it is to keep at it, but we generally don’t seek out things we dislike, do we? Keep at it, keep making them laugh–that is a super confidence-booster.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I have seen at least two Amy Cuddy videos, but her ideas stay with me. Body language is such an interesting subject. It does have a tremendous effect on everyday communication and self-confidence.

      Yes, I love to make my audience laugh. That is often one of my goals when speaking in public.

      Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

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