Speaking in public has always been an intimidating task for me. I feel most vulnerable when I am in such situations and yet over these past 13 years in ministry working among women, children, men, pastors, leaders, young people I am often called up to address gatherings in various situations and occasions. I have realized that, as a leader there is no escape from public speaking. Also over the years, I have come realize that as a leader one has to give voice and words to the vision in order to influence, garner support and accomplish the mission at hand.
Hence, understanding the science and art of public speaking is important for a leader. This week’s reading: “Confessions of a Public Speaker” unpacks just that with many practical suggestions included. One of the important ‘do’s’ that Berkun emphasizes is Practice. He states that practice is important for a near perfect delivery and impact. It also helps control stress that comes with public speaking.
However, while practice makes perfect, I believe another key ingredient to success in public speaking is Passion. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to hear several speakers and preachers. The ones that have had an impact on me are those that were able to speak from the heart about issues that they are passionate about. At a recent National Consultation of the YMCA held in Ahmedabad Gujarat to discuss ideas for re-branding the Indian Movement, Mr. Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat was invited to deliver the inaugural address. A politician, thinker and an iconic figure of the BJP party, he is known for having literally ushered in a new era for his State. I had the privilege of hearing him speak that day.
Addressing a gathering of YMCA leaders for the first time, he had done his homework on the YMCA, clearly thought through his speech and communicated a vision for the youth of India with conviction and passion. While his command over the English language was not what one would expect, he delivered his speech with great confidence and poise. The message was conveyed and had great impact on me. He was passionate about equipping young people and developing them as leaders and that reflected in his speech making it impactful and convincing.
Two things strike me about such orators. First, they have strong convictions about the topic or issue they speak on and second they are passionate about accomplishing a mission, which is reflected in their speech. While I believe that I will always be anxious and stressed before I speak, I have learnt that if I take the time to practice and speak from my heart with passion about my passion, being perfect is not an issue.