The following blog post was written by Kelty Christensen, Learner Engagement Officer at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement.
Your heart is pounding. You have sweaty palms. You feel your face getting red. Your mouth feels dry. Your mind goes blank.
Is this how you feel before speaking in public?
It has been said that our fear of public speaking is so great that we fear it more than death. Yet when this fear can be put aside and no longer carries weight, what emerges is a new found sense of confidence and freedom that permeates throughout all areas of one’s life. When learners feel and see that they can experience success, even in a small way, they start to see the possibility of other successes. Doubt begins to fade and a curiosity emerges: “If I can do this, and I never thought that I could, what else can I do?”
Public speaking is a skill that can positively influence many areas of life. Strong public speaking skills can lead to better communication with others and build overall confidence to manage personal, social, and professional situations.
Why is it so hard for people to believe that they are fully capable of having success with public speaking and how does one overcome this seemingly huge obstacle?
At the Intercultural Centre we create opportunities for learners to experience success in public speaking by taking small steps:
- A learner may start out by hosting an information table or working with peers to support a campus event. The comfort of sharing a responsibility with a peer and at the same time not feeling like the center of attention helps to ease learners into the initial public speaking role.
- Next, a learner may graduate to participating in the MC in the IC program or give a campus tour. These opportunities increase the public speaking responsibility, yet the speaking commitment is relatively small. Acting as a tour guide for peers is a gradual way of taking on leadership and speaking skills.
- Finally, a learner may choose to host a Teach your Talent workshop or run for a position in the BVC Students' Association. By this point, learners have put themselves in several public speaking situations and have seen how they can have success. They also have increased confidence in their ability to take on roles outside of their comfort zone.
Once leaners break through their perceived fears with public speaking, a new world of opportunities is opened to them. Before they know it, they are doing things that they never thought that they could do!