This is my first, prepared, humorous speech. And that too for a contest. I’ve never really ever sat down to write something funny for a speech. Usually I would deliver Observational humor monologues in the Toastmasters meetings, which I would prepare during the meeting itself, based on the things that happen during the meeting.
Two weeks before, our club announced that there would be a Humor Speech Contest on Sep 19th (today) and the winner would represent our club in the area-level humor speech contest. I was very much excited after hearing the news. I wanted to prepare a kick-ass humor speech. And guess what, I spent the next 13 days just thinking that there is tomorrow to sit and write the speech. Yester night, I realized that the contest is today. I sat down to write a speech yester night at 10 o’ clock. The first thing that came to my mind was, “Er, why are you writing now? Still, there is a tomorrow.” Then I slept without even thinking of the topic on which I would speak.
I set the alarm for 4 o’clock, thinking I would wake up and write something for tonight’s contest. Alarms are invented to wake everyone up in your house except you. I woke up at 5:30. When I was thinking of a topic for the contest, the first thing that crossed my mind was “fear of public speaking.” Then I sat down to write some stuff on that topic. Here is the speech that I wrote and delivered in the contest. And the good news is that I’m gonna represent my club in the area-level contest on Oct 6.
I didn’t have much time to practice this speech. I just wrote my speech and directly delivered in the contest. The lines were funny and got decent laughs. But, it was more of a flatline delivery. I need to improve my delivery and bring much variation in my tone to win the area-level contest. I need to practice a lot. I don’t have to worry anyway, coz there is tomorrow. OK, here is the speech now.
Good evening students from Cambridge and students from Oxford. You may be wondering if I’m going mad. No, I’m not. One old saying states that if you want to get rid of fear of public speaking, then imagine your audience as students lined up to give speech and who are equally nervous as you. So good evening students.
I had fear of public speaking 3 years ago. I badly wanted to get rid of it. I asked a professional speaker for his advice. He said, “One way to overcome fear of public speaking is to be afraid and speak anyway.” I followed his advise. I tried, tried and tried for several weeks and then months. After 6 months of practice, I achieved the results partially. I mean, I achieved the first half of “Be afraid and speak anyway.”
I was frustrated because of the fear of public speaking. I hated my life; I hated myself; I decided to commit suicide. I locked the door and decided to hang myself. When I was about to hang myself, someone knocked the door “tok tok tok”. I asked, “who’s at the door?” The person replied, “I’m your friend, Bala.” I replied, “I am currently committing suicide. Come back later.” He shouted, “Whaaaat!!!” He broke the door, came inside and saved me. He asked me why I wanted to die. He reminded me that I was too young to die. I told him, “I have fear of death. And I know that one way to overcome fear of death is to be afraid and die anyway.”
I read in a book that taking deep breath before speech would relax you and alleviate fear. I tried it too. Before every speech, I would just take a deep cleansing breath, count 1 2 3, release air and start speaking. That improved my speaking skill. Many people noticed difference in my speech. Some people asked me, “Hey Bala, you’ve improved a lot. But why don’t you just say good evening. Why do you say 1 2 3 good evening?”
In one of the speeches in the Toastmasters club, the ah um counter had a tough time during my speech. When I finished my speech, he told me that I didn’t use a single ah and um in my speech, which was great. But he said something else that let me down. He said I used sixteen 1 2 3’s in my speech.
You may be thinking that I took deep breath 16 times during my speech. No, that’s not the case. If it were the case, my speech would only consist of deep breaths. And people would talk behind my back, “Hey, look at Bala. He’s the one who doesn’t have fear of public breathing.” That wasn’t the case. The professional speaker advised me to pause in between the speeches and count 1 2 3. Maybe I paused 16 times during that speech.
Pausing in between your speech benefits you in many ways
1. It gives you time to think what you’re going to say next.
2. It gives the audience a feel that you’re not rushing.
3. It develops your 1 2 3 counting skill.
Another advise that he gave me was to dress neatly. Or at least, to dress. If I dress neatly, I would have more confidence. If I have more confidence, I would have no fear. I tried it too. If I have to summarize his advises, one way to overcome fear of public speaking is to be afraid and dress anyway.
If you’re not able to follow any of these advises, then at least follow this one thing. i.e. practice practice practice. The key to good speaking is practice. Practice at office; practice at home; practice at strangers’ home. This society isn’t fair to the people who practice. I read in newspaper last week that a Canadian American was arrested for practicing his marriage vow in 68 different wedding ceremonies. I want to end my speech with this message. Just practice your speech… 68 times. er, not 68… you may get arrested.
I’m sure I’ll become a very good public speaker. When I become one, media and newspaper guys will be in queue to interview me. Do you know what I would say if they ask me for an interview? (I paused and started counting 1 2 3) I would say, “Please interview me privately. I have fear of public speaking.” Thank you.
I’m not sure if I’m gonna go with the same speech for the area-level contest. I’m not fully satisfied with this content. I wrote all this in a hurry. I think I will select a new topic and write a new speech. It’s more work for me, but what the h*, there is always day-after-tomorrow.