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On public speaking

On public speaking
By Shivan Sivakumaran • Issue #47 • View online
…to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.
— Jerry Seinfield
Kia ora e hoa,
The fear of looking stupid definitely crossed my mind. In the past, I really had to scrape the barrel for any motivation to speak in front of others. In fact, one example where it went horribly and embarrassingly wrong is my studentship presentation I had in my fourth year of University.
Without getting into too much detail, I was ripped apart by the head of department in front of all my peers. It was so bad, I had friends who didn’t attend, and I had not told offer comfort. Bless them (and thank you). That means it was bad enough to mention by those who were present to those who weren’t
That was five (or maybe six?) years ago. After listening to this podcast, by Neil Thompson on Podcast.init, I am compelled to lick my wounds and become a better public speaker.
And retrospectively, I already started making the first steps. Last week, I presented my TubeStats project to the Christchurch Python meetup.
The task seemed daunting. I’ve only been using Python for a year. Here I am presenting to professionals with a decade or more experience.
My initial thought was I’d be made a mockery. Instead, what actually happened was lots of positive affirmations and firm handshakes. Maybe I was hiding behind the protective ‘beginner’ label? But I was described as ‘brave’ and ‘entertaining’. I’ll take it.
So what can we learn from this?
It’s important to share your work. This is what I did. There is a skill in being able to make something, but it is also important to be able to present in front of others. This is where we are open to feedback, teach, and inspire.
Speaking in front of others can be exciting and nerving. What’s good advice? Picture everyone naked? In the beginning, I know I’m anxious. However, after the presentation, the unease turns into elation. I’m happy I presented. In fact, I want to talk for longer or do it again. Focusing on the latter works for me. Hopefully, you too.
Now that I’m back on the horse, I want to improve this skill by being a good storyteller. A problem that I notice is that when I speak, the words are jumbled. This makes it difficult to understand the message that I’m trying to convey.
So, what am I going to do to improve? Join the local Toastmasters.
How do you feel about public speaking? What’s your experience in speaking in front of large audiences?
Thanks for reading and all the best for the week ahead.
Ngā mihi nui,
Shivan :)

My Favourite Things
  1. Book The Rosie Project A romantic comedy written by Graeme Simsion is a hilarious tale of a socially challenged genetic professor who constructs a questionnaire to screen for his perfect wife. Plans change when he meets Rosie Jarmen, who is none of those things.
Kindle Highlight of the Week
We imitate people we envy.
James Clear, Atomic Habits
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Shivan Sivakumaran

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