Teacher Diaries: Ms. Esme – Love Speaking

Speaking in front of a crowd can be frightening yet rewarding. Thinking of my own public speaking experience, the most influential and important one, among all the presentations and reports I did in my years of school life, is the public speaking competition I joined when I was secondary 4. Without such an experience, I would never have discovered the fun of public
speaking.

Not being an especially outgoing student, I had never thought of being chosen by my English teacher to be the class representative of an inter-class public speaking competition. Although it was just a school event, merely thinking of me standing on the stage of the school hall presenting my speech in English in front of the whole school was enough to scare me to death at that time.

What if my English was not fluent enough? What if I suddenly forgot my speech on the stage? What if people did not like the content of my speech? What if people laughed at my accent? I was overwhelmed by these worries when I was preparing for the big day. And I still remember my palms were sweating, my legs were shaking and my heart was in my mouth when I walked
onto the stage. Taking a deep breath, I started my speech as a principal on the topic ‘Reward or punishment – which is the better motivator?’

To my surprise, the audience nodded their heads as I was speaking; they even laughed when I made a pun. This was the moment when I realized the essence of speaking – to communicate ideas. When we speak, we are actually delivering and expressing our thoughts while receiving response from our listeners. No one is perfect, and we do not have to expect perfection from ourselves – what is important in speaking is to convey one’s ideas and evoke understanding in
others.

Finding myself interacting with the audience, I was able to calm my nerves and finish my speech. As the audience clapped their hands, the feeling of accomplishment and excitement came along and lasted for a long time.

Since then, I have had a lot of chances to speak in front of the audience. I found that nervousness towards public speaking is completely normal – the best way to overcome this is to prepare well and practice hard for it. Try to go over your speech several times to let yourself be completely familiar with it. You can also practice your speech in front of the mirror while paying attention to your gestures, facial expressions and body movements; record your speech and listen to it as if you were your audience is also useful as you can improve on your voice projection and intonation.

Once you are willing to take the first step to speak up and improve yourself, you will definitely enjoy the fun of speaking and learn a lot from the process.

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