Sunday, 27 January 2013 12:22

Overcoming Shyness in Public Speaking Featured

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Overcoming Shyness in Public Speaking

I am no expert at public speaking, but I have been called upon to deliver speeches to crowds numerous times (at graduations, for accepting awards, as a bridesmaid, etc.) even when I was so shy that talking to people at all, let alone en masse, occasionally brought on panic attacks. Through experience, and by incorporating what worked for me as a salesperson, I now actually enjoy public speaking.

This is what I learned:

1) Treating people as I would like to be treated, and taking the time to work out who my audience will likely be, what they are interested in, and what I would want or need in their place, tends to be helpful. In sales, my most successful tactic was listening to people before giving my pitch.

2) It’s valuable to write down what I want to say beforehand. Otherwise I ramble.

3) Practicing what I want to say with an inanimate object (e.g. a mirror, wall or—as a kid—my teddy) builds my confidence. Then I can talk to people without tripping over my tongue.

4) Taking my notes with me helps me stay on point, and when I need to take a deep breath I can sneak one in while glancing at my notes.

5) To prepare, I remind myself that I know what I want to say, that it’s important to me to share this, and that I can pull this off. I find one person in the room (my mother, a friend, someone familiar) that I can “hook” onto when I realize that I can’t do this, and then I tell that person what I want to say, and once I’m back in the groove I move my attention to another person.

6) I walk into a room or to the podium with good posture, and my version of grace and confidence. (I think Audrey Hepburn.) I always smile, even if I’m suddenly struck at how bad an idea this is.

7) I approach the crowd as a mass of individuals—I direct my speech to one person at a time, usually for about a sentence, and I look them directly in the eye. I can’t talk to People because I’m not in a conversation with People, I’m having a one-on-one conversation with several persons simultaneously.

8) Above all, if I’m sincere in what I want to say, and I make a point to connect with the persons that I’m sharing my thoughts with, I tend to be successful. And while I may kick myself later for the occasional rambling, I’m in the moment and I have fun despite being somewhat nervous inside.

Some tips from the experts:

“Good public speaking is seven parts attitude and three parts mechanics (organization, body language and rhetorical devices)… You can wow an audience with a forceful message and a good attitude…” Getting Over Yourself: A Guide to Painless Public Speaking by Barbara Rocha.

10 Tips from Toastmasters International.

©2012 Joanna Celeste (

[Article originally published in the May issue of SPAWNews.]

Click here to return to the index of Articles

Read 494 times Last modified on Wednesday, 17 November 2021 18:52

Comments powered by CComment

Latest Posts

  • The Creative Industry Needs to Look at Things Differently Post Budget 2022
    On 29 October 2021, the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz tabled Budget 2022 in the Malaysian parliament. RM50 million has been allocated for the arts and culture industry. This comes after a year and a half after the entire industry came to an absolute standstill. With…
  • ‘The Covid Positives’ – life lessons learnt from the pandemic by Phanindra Ivatury
    After a long drawn battle with the biggest catastrophe in our living memory, global humanity is finally getting to see some quintessential ray of light at the end of the treacherous tunnel in the form of COVID-19 vaccines, currently being rolled out to all parts of the globe. A ‘COVID-19…
  • Chaos of Whole Books
    Is it possible to read several books at once? Aneeta Sundararaj finds out. When I was a child, my cousin used to boast that he could read four storybooks at a time. As an adult, when he invested in an e-Reader, he continued to boast that he could…
  • Writing for You? Or for Me?
    Writing for You? Or for Me? ‘You must always write with your reader in mind.’ This was one of the first pieces of advice that I received when I began my writing career. Honestly, I found this extremely hard to do because more often than not, I couldn’t picture my…
  • One Book That Changed My Writing Life
    My latest novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets was shortlisted for two categories in the Book Award 2020 organised by the National Library of Malaysia. When I reflected on the journey that this book has taken, I acknowledged the enormous influence of one of my all-time favourite books, Joseph Anton:…