It is an interesting phenomenon that when we speak to eachother, more often than not it comes naturally (unless you are speaking to a crush for the first time). But when it comes to speaking in front of a room of 20 or more people, things change, and speaking naturally becomes a lot more difficult? Even if you have 100% faith in what you’re saying – it becomes so much more challenging to say in front of a crowd. It’s a very strange thing, and I found this in my first public speaking class I attended on Friday, that there is so much more to speaking in public then you may think. I have always been interested in broadcasting as a potential career goal so I thought this public speaking class would give me some essential practice and help that I would need to get into the field. I also feel I’m pretty confident person and thought the idea of speaking infront of a class of people wouldn’t be too bad at all. I was totally wrong. Don’t get me wrong, after I gave my piece I got some praise from the teacher (who by the way was pretty harsh but I’ll come to that), and was complimented on the pace of which I said things and the pitch of my voice which is always a good thing right?
But weirdly before I went up to speak I thought I was going to have a heart attack. My heart was beating so fast, and my hands were getting warm and when I was up there (I don’t think it was noticeable to the class) but I felt myself trembling like an alarm clock that had just gone off. It was such a weird sensation because I really wouldn’t consider myself a nervous person but even my close friend noticed that she’s never seen me so nervous before. Which got me to thinking what a strange concept it is that we can speak a lot more comfortably in a smaller group but as soon as people start paying attention to only you, the only thing you can think of is how other people must see you. Do I sound okay? Do people like my accent? Wait, do people like my outfit? Oh no I picked this in a rush today. I have better style than this!!! Is any of what I’m saying interesting…? These thoughts come racing into your head all at once and it’s such a bizarre sensation – But also quite a thrilling one. After we gave our speeches we heard feedback from the class which allowed us to see what they thought of our performances. I spoke earlier about my teacher. And I already love her. She’s kinda like Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada (if you don’t know who I mean by this I am saddened). I found her very to the point with what she meant, and sometimes not so nice. She said to one of the guys in the class that he looked too serious and scary when he spoke, and that another girl looked “like she didn’t give a shit.” I was totally surprised by such harsh criticism but I think this is what everyone needed and you could see everyone was ambitious to do well for her. I know I left the class feeling inspired anyway.
I suppose I wanted to write about this because I never really considered how much it takes to public speak and how body language is so important. If you don’t stand up straight people don’t take you seriously. If you fidget people think you’re nervous and don’t trust you. If you use too many hand gestures people get distracted and lose interest. If you are monotone and don’t use expression in your voice people get bored, and on the opposite end if you are too theatrical people think you’re “a joke” as our teacher told us (actually secretly found her hilarious).
So there is so much science to it that I never really realized before and what I believed came natural to us, is infact, a lot harder than it seems. Hats off to those who present award shows such as the Emmys, they must be putting on a seriously brave front!!
Anyway, that’s what inspired and interested me this week. I have been shown that you do truly need a new level of confidence and inner calm to public speak – and I am really excited for what the rest of the class has to offer. 💫💫