Fear of speaking in public!!

September, 2021

Dear Friends

Glossophobia is the number one fear after death. What is this exotic sounding phobia ? It is nothing but the fear of public speaking stemming from the fear of being rejected or embarrassed. Though the reference is to public speaking indicating a large gathering, it could also be a small group of friends, family, colleagues, countrymen. At times it could even be the fear of speaking to a senior, a person in authority or power or strong influence where you feel tongue-tied and suffer being judged or ridiculed. The reasons may be plenty but the cure is to confront the phobia by actually stepping forward and speaking.

This requires practice, practice and more practice until your thoughts, words and gestures are in perfect harmony. Until you feel you are a singer in an orchestra. Until you feel you are a painter, an artist. Yes until you deliver a performance as an artist rather than a speech. Performance with a Roar and Dance. Wait a minute, why did I say roar and dance ? That’s because that’s the title of a 30 minute speech, nay performance, that I witnessed a few weeks ago by a champion public speaker Fursey Gotuaco. Allow me to take you into the world of Fursey !!Speeches are like paintings. Speaker is like an artist who paints with different paint brushes, who roars and dances. The question is

  • Can we have in our voice the texture, colour & blend of a paint ?

  • How to create colour and texture through voice and draw focus of the audience to our speech ?

  • How to create the image of scale on a virtual screen ….small, medium, large by coming close to the screen or moving away, away, away from it signalling through hands and body gestures ?

  • Imagine dropping a pebble in a proverbial pool of water….1,2,3,4,5…how the ripples are formed from near to far. In different settings you may have to use different voices – whisper to catch attention, formal soft talk to a small gathering, a loud resonant voice before a large audience.

  • You and I have all tools within us to speak in a resonant voice. All of us are painters with different tools in our kit, with paint brushes of varied sizes and makes. We need to be aware of our painting abilities – for a speaker to be able to paint with his hands and vocal chords.

  • Lets resolve that “Today I will speak with a vibrant, rich, round, resonant voice” !

Coming to usage of hands, they speak along with the words, sometimes without them also. Hand gestures like a dancer’s movements speak a thousand emotions. Therefore choosing the right movement is very critical to an expression of a public speaker. A specific message could require gracious movements like a gentle dance. Curvaceous waving hands at times. A profitable idea could be reflected through a skyward looking firm hand. An inverted thumb for a dip in profits. A new policy launch could see the expansion through open, upward turned palms. Hand gestures are powerful tools that convey a variety of messages and any inappropriate usage could ruin the same. No wonder learning to use the hands effectively rather than hide it in the pocket or clasp it or fidget with it is an integral lesson in public speaking. Fundamentally determine how many crayons you have in your box ? How many you use ?

Again what matters is the appropriate scale, texture and colour of the painting because quintessentially “Speech is a work of Art”. Every element must be in proper dimension. A small idea should not be delivered in a loud voice nor a big idea in a small voice. Short and long pauses too are critical characters in the performance of a Speech. Most speakers begin with a strong voice at the opening of a sentence but lose out at the end. The key is to build and maintain intensity till the end, like a Rapper ! Appropriate voice, body language and hand gestures must be assiduously rehearsed and re-rehearsed until they blend in harmony and are completely internalised by the speaker. Then and only then the final outcome will be a synchronised symphony of sorts.

Fursey concluded ….Paint with emphasis, with pause, repetition, contrast in voice moving from 1 to 5, switch numbers if required, match with gestures for scale, neither understated nor overdone, maintain intensity in voice and grow it if the speech requires. Remember you are an artist with different paint brushes of every type. You are born with an instrument that you hardly understand. Now that you have, use it well, speak from your heart. Finally OWN YOUR SPEECH – ROAR & DANCE !!

Fursey left us all awe-struck, mesmerised and floored with the timbre in his voice, twinkle in his eyes and the various dance-like hand movements. Wow how much he could convey in 30 minutes in the imaginary stage of a zoom window ….the expanse, the depth and the excitement he created was incredible.