SUCCESS! “Fake it ’til you make it..?”

Breaking the ice of public speaking!
Breaking the ice of public speaking!

by Sheetal Makhan / AYC

It is with much excitement that I can say that the first in a series of “How-to” workshops, yesterday’s session titled “Fake it ’til you make it…or become it?” was a great success!

After observing many student presentations in the elective classes, I felt that I needed to spend an afternoon with students about what it takes to give a presentation. Public speaking has been ranked as one of the number one fears in the world.  Now imagine giving a talk in a language that is not your first. Daunting? Absolutely! It would be impossible to cover everything I need to in just one afternoon. So I decided to spend yesterday focusing on “power”.

We discussed how body language can affect what we say to people – ones arms, eyes, posture, handshake and smile. Remember that we use LANGUAGE for COMMUNICATION for INTERACTION. Much of what we say (non-verbally) deals with power and dominance. By merely ‘spreading’ your body, opening your arms when speaking tells others a lot about you.

If somebody is shy or nervous to speak in front of others, is it possible to “fake it”? Could they overcome their fear by pretending that they’re confident? This was the question I posed to the 20+ students yesterday.

Our minds change our bodies > Our bodies change our minds > Our minds change our behaviour!

I asked students to think about the people who they consider to be “powerful” in their class. How can they be characterized? The most important points to note is that they are optimistic and risk-takers. This gives them the upper hand to speak with confidence – even if they’re not!

A very important point to keep in mind when giving a presentation is that very little is about the content of the speech. The bulk of what your audience will take away from your message will be through your presence and delivery. They will feel if you’re passionate, confident, authentic, comfortable, captivating and enthusiastic. After all – if you’re not excited about the topic you’re speaking about, why should your audience care?

I invited some students to come forward to give a one-minute presentation on a given topic. I was so completely in awe of some individuals (who previously vowed that they would never speak in front of a big crowd) who stood up and spoke. Of course, it wasn’t easy. However, I believe that the things that make us afraid are what we should strive to do – to prove to ourselves that we CAN.

Thank you so much to the students who attended yesterday’s workshop and to those who faced their fears and stood up to speak. For me, as a teacher, I was filled with pride and joy. I could almost feel the ice breaking in the room.

The success of yesterday’s workshop has inspired me to continue with more like these. So watch this space!