CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – MAY 8, 2021 (PT.1)
Lecturing Without Fear
Public speaking, it is commonly said, is one of the most pervasive fears (in some surveys, second only to death). It is estimated that 75% of all people suffer from fear of public speaking. In academic training, speaking skills are rarely taught in any formal sense, which may increase anxiety and discomfort. Yet public speaking is one of the most important skills for scholars, and hence a skill which is commonly tested—from lectures to formal research presentations.
The goal of this module is to provide some core materials one can use to begin the journey of becoming comfortable with speaking in public. Each section, below, contains specific tips for how to make public speaking less daunting.
I. Recognize that public speaking is an everyday activity
Much anxiety over public speaking starts from the fact that we presume public speaking to be unnatural, or that one has to act in a “special way” when giving a formal talk. In fact, the opposite is true: public speaking is something one practices on a daily basis: anytime we speak with another person, we are calling on (and honing) our speaking skills. As teachers/academics, we are public speakers whenever we talk about our research at conferences, workshops, etc.
Ways in which we are public speakers/presenters everyday:
- Social gatherings
- Speaking to one’s colleagues/mentor/adviser
- Participating in committee work or faculty/departmental meetings
- Introducing oneself to others at orientations or other large gatherings
- Dealing with family
- Participating in a group/team discussion
- Sharing a meal in a dining hall, etc.
Although the form may vary, we are always communicating with others in a public forum. Many people suffer in “public speaking” because they try to change their speaking patterns, attitudes, etc. when it is time to give an official presentation. Much of the specific training in public speaking is designed to force oneself to go back to what people do normally on an everyday basis.
Possible exercise to practice this tip: introduce yourself to random people on campus, in the dining halls, etc. Note that this is not much different from introducing yourself in an interview, conference or other “high stakes” environment.
II. Recognize the power of fear management
Expert public speaking requires transferring the comfort we have in low-stakes interactions to formal environments when we are expected to talk to others.
Make It A Champion Day!