The Power of Speech

For the last two days I was enrolled into an Advanced Public Speaking workshop by a renown consultant. I hate giving presentations and yet this skill becomes ever more ubiquitous in my job as an educator.

It is a constant struggle for me between the fear of speaking to public or even to my colleagues and the adrenaline rush that comes from delivering a presentation to an audience.

The other struggle I have within the government outfit is between delivering what I call a ‘government speak’ presentation and an honest in your face passion about financial education that I hope to slap on my captive audience.

And so with these struggles in mind, I committed the last 20 hours of my life in this workshop. And I think it inadvertently awoken something within me, which I am still trying to figure out what.

First let me share the most impressionable skill I picked from this workshop. To use S, C, C layering. S represents State as in to tell your point upfront. However our audience are usually poor listeners so it is imperative that we repeat our point but differently. That’s where the two Cs which represent Clarify comes in handy.

There are multiple ways to do this and the most common and probably intuitive would be to simply rephrase your point. But this is so boring… and is more likely to irritate your audience than achieve the effect of retention.

So that’s where we pocketed different strategies to clarify by using –

  • Examples – both general and specific
  • Stories and anecdotes
  • Analogies
  • Questions – low-stress and high cerebral
  • Guided Imagery
  • Statistics and research
  • Comparisons
  • Felt – Found – Feel – a way to put together story about what we initially felt, then found out and now feel about
  • Left-hand Column – this works more as a visual aid for me, I haven’t quite figured how to create an ah-ha moment with this

The second C could either be another clarification technique if the first one didn’t quite deliver the punch, otherwise it could simply be a recap of your main point.

I love that! I really do and I think I’ve finally put down in paper a method to deliver an effective and powerful presentation that I knew intuitively but never had the chance to confirm it.

I had the opportunity to try hands on some of these presentation techniques that we’ve been learning theoretically today. I have never seen myself as a good presenter because I am usually too jumpy and nervous and conscious of myself. I know I can connect easily with others because of my natural disposition but having presence and being dynamic was not my strong point.

But somehow during the multiple mini-presentations, I found myself becoming deeply immersed in giving the presentation so much so that it felt like an out of body experience. I could almost visualise my words drawing in my audience and holding them captive with my eye contact. I felt roused by the emotional vibe, felt like I was feeding off the all the emo coming from my colleagues. And that was scary.

After my last presentation, my trainer told the class that if I were one day decide to run for minister, she would vote for me. Perhaps she was just being nice. I didn’t think I did too well as I wasn’t properly prepared.

I shared a conversation I had with my mother about her state of retirement planning which essentially is a hand to mouth situation, made sweet by her luck in lottery these days.

As our trainer had to be difficult, she posed me an irrelevant question about why I was so disrespectful to my mother by sharing her story. I did my best to answer her but I knew I fell short. I had the answer all prepared somewhere but it didn’t come out.

As I was on my way home, I kept pondering about the trainer’s question. Did I sacrifice my mother’s honor just to have a good story? Or was it the realisation that this was a pain point for me? That somehow unbeknownst to me, I had been propelled unawares on this course for financial literacy because I was afraid to become like my parents or have other children share the struggles I had been through?

Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in between the two – guilt and fear. Coupled with an awakened ability to reach out and touch others, I think I’ve just about reached the limit of sanity today. And so I am just going to sleep over this and tomorrow will be just another ordinary day.

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