Public speaking scenario I:Act I Scene I
“In this grave hour…I send to every household of my peoples, both at home and overseas, this message, spoken with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself.
For the second time in the lives of most of us, we are at war…”
So went the King’s Speech that George VI broadcast throughout the British Empire, whenhis nation declared war against Germany on September 3, 1939. The impact of that historic speech was incalculable on the world stage.
Yet that was the first public speech delivered by George VI, who suffered from a debilitating nervous stammer and a mortal fear of public speaking. It was almost impossible for him to pronounce the letter ‘k’ – a cruel fate indeed for a “king”!
Public speaking scenario II: Act I Scene II
Now imagine an impending battle scene between ancient Greece and Persia.
Around the mid-300s, the largely non-martial Athenians were found quietly building their naval strength to show the Persians that they were ready to fight. The city-state also discovered a strategy to keep its democratic freedom by remaining independent of all other Greek city-states.
This Athenian policy was created thanks to a rousing speech made by the ancient Greek orator, Demosthenes.
Yet history tells us that Demosthenes had a speech defect, a pronounced stammer, which he overcame by speaking with pebbles in his mouth. He also practiced speaking before a large mirror.He learned much about voice modulation and storytelling skills.
You can speak in public too
Be inspired by the dramatic victories of Demosthenes and King George VI (who was incidentally the father of the present British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II), and know that is possible to overcome all fears and disabilities of making a speech before an audience.
Remember that all speaking is ‘public speaking’. Whether you have an audience of one or a thousand, you are constantly speaking in public. With this positive thought in mind, begin by identifying and overcoming your barriers.Today, there are enough and more training experts out there to help you, should you need professional support.
With or without expert help, however, remember that all you need is a healthy dose of determination, discipline and practice.