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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Speak Without Fear

Does the world belong to those with the gift of the gab? Unfortunately I am inclined to think so. The smooth talker gets the girl and the smooth talker moves up the corporate ladder faster than anyone else even if he/she has less knowledge/experience than the quieter one. I've seen it too many times not to be skeptical about it. (So says Ms Sour Grapes. Cos' I'm the quiet one. Always have been. The wallflower type. Very taciturn.) Funny that I should have held a job which required frequent public speaking. Hahaha.

I still remember the butterflies inside my stomach everytime I had to speak. Podium is good becos can hide behind it. Gives a false sense of confidence. But when one has to walk up and down a crowded room...boy oh boy oh boy....is that hard. Makes one feel so naked, so exposed, all jittery, everyone must notice etc etc.

I think I did it well, sometimes..... Sometimes a stanger amongst the audience may come up to me and say "How do you do it? Speak without fear?" but sometimes a well-meaning close colleague may tell me this instead "You sound very nervous just now. Your voice was shaking." So who's telling the truth? The stranger or the friend? Maybe both. Maybe the stranger was just being kind. Maybe the friend was just being honest.

Once I had a chairman of a conference cancel on me at the very last minute and I mean the very last minute. "MG. Something came up. I can't make it. You'll have to chair the conference." That was tough. "Shit! Now how on earth was little ole me going to chair a panel discussion on how to list your company on the stock exchange when the panelists are merchant bankers, corporate lawyers, public relations consultants etc?" Thank goodness I got out of that one unscathed. I begged another speaker to do it of course. Hehehe.

If I had to speak in public again for any event, I probably would be able to do it but not without lots of fear and butterflies. It just doesn't come easy to me. My level of confidence for public speaking on a scale of 1-10 would probably be 3 or 4 ie on the low end. My second sister on the other hand loves to speak in public and does it very well. I'm wondering today: Is public speaking an acquired skill or is someone born with it? Can one do it well only with lots of practise or would someone thats "born with it" do it much more easily? Can I teach my children to speak well without fear or do I have to let them discover for themselves when the grow up? Ah... so many questions... too few answers.


  1. Public speaking is something I will do it with my full force and do it well (and I did, so many time), but also something I will not purposely look for it (hate the butterfly too) :P.

  2. I have butterflies everytime I speak to a crowd. But I'm fairly confident - at least enough to do it without too much reservation. I thank my mom for this. She put me up on a stage when I was in Std 1, when she encouraged me to join our school's Elocution Contest. :) So, start your kids young.

  3. mg I am no better than you in the scale but i am always willing to speak to an audience. I think it needs alot of practice.

  4. very sad ler..I'm the wan kenot speak in public..my tongue just tie when I facing stranger..this is my 'die' weakness..:(

    I totally agreed smooth talker move up faster..long time ago me & friend apply for the same job after graduated..She got the job eventho result r no good as me..me..haii...silent interview i got lah..

  5. in front of an audience, i can sing and dance...but speak?! *cold sweat*

    but i think it'll be good to train 'em from young and it'll be beneficial to them in future lo. ready to speak up anytime, anywhere mar.

  6. Its better to train them rather than let them discover it by themselves. Although public speaking is not a MUST in current jobs, but it is definately an advantage. Honestly, my family didn't teach me such things and my family style is that everything keep to yourself, only speak things that matters. This in turn resulted I don't speak even with my own family, what more to strangers. Let them voice out as much as possible, ask them to speak to strangers and stuff, to train their courage and speaking skills. I lack of that alot, and I am still brushing it up. Sighs...

  7. To me besides training, knowing/understand exactly what you are talking about is also important. In my work, if I'm sure of what I talk, no matter who the audience are, I'm ok. But if there is a tiny part that I'm not sure of, I sure get butterflies;)

  8. twinsmom, you so gerng wan ah?

    James, I sang "Paper Roses" in front of the school assembly when I was in Std 1 but it didn't seem to have helped?!

    thquah, practise makes perfect. Must practise in front of the mirror, in the toilet, while driving, etc.

    msau, so kesian ah, got silent treatment....

    autumnmusic, for me, to speak *cold sweat* to sing and dance *pengsan*

    Jason, ya lor, I oso never had that training when young. Go and buy stuff from kedai runcit oso sked like mad.

    mama22beas, Knowledge is Power. It helps.

  9. Anytime, anywhere I am willing to take up the challenge. I do get the 'support' from friends that say, 'I can hear your voice shaking'. In my heart, so what, at least I am up there and you are down here. Nyek, nyek, nyek. I like the adrenalin rush. I seriously want to join the toastmaster club but atm dun agree to babysit for me yet. *sniff, sniff*

  10. Hahaha. Yes, I can just imagine how you would love the adrenalin rush.

  11. Hi Mumsgather,

    I do know one person who is absolutely born with public speaking skills. No butterflies at all be it MC at weddings or presentations to entire board of directors of big MNCs and he has been this way since way back for as long as he can remember. So lucky huh?

    That being said, I know for a fact that this is a skill that can be honed and polished with practice and experience.

    In fact there are numerous professional public speakers who work the public speaking circuits for a living, speak with perfect flair and confidence, and yet believe it or not, they are adamant that they still feel butterflies each and every time!

    I am a lousy public speaker but I think it makes a big difference if the subject matter is something I am passionate about.

  12. Hi Tinkerbell, Welcome to my blog and thanks for your comment. I replied to you this morning (kenot remember what I wrote now) but it got lost somewhere in blogosphere. Grrr....


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