Not everyone likes public speaking. In fact, I think if you took a survey, most people would say they don’t. It’s a shame that something so universally disliked is expected of you so often in academic and professional situations.
This blog comes at a time when I’m in the process of preparing my Exposé, a 10 minute French presentation in front of my native French tutor and my peers. A few years ago, the thought of it would have filled me with dread. Now? Doesn’t phase me.
I’m not a pro at public speaking or anything, it’s just a matter of getting used to it. I personally hate public speaking. I don’t like being the centre of attention, and as soon as you stand up in front of a room of people, everyone looks at you. Anyone who knows me properly will know that I’m not much of a talker. I’m not one for small talk, and I rarely ever contribute in seminars. I would much rather sit back and learn from a lecture, rather than be forced to debate a topic and willingly offer my ideas for others to jot down as their own. I learnt to stop putting my hand up in lessons at a young age.
Every now and then I stop and think ‘Why did I decide to study French?’. For someone who dislikes talking, this is the worst subject I could have possibly chosen. You have to talk to get better at a language. Whether it’s speaking in oral classes, or speaking to natives abroad, you have to be vocal. Being forced to do this has led me to a place where I can tolerate speaking in public. I’ve done so many presentations in French by now that I don’t stress out like I used to. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like doing them, but it doesn’t bother me as much. So in that respect, French was possibly the best subject I could have chosen. It’s forced me to speak up and be more confident when speaking to people, which is something I really needed. It doesn’t all stem from French though, studying Drama at A-Level most certainly helped me with that too.
I guess the point of this blog is to show you that yes, it’s important to be well-read and know your subject well, but you also have to develop your communication skills to succeed. If it were up to me no one would ever have to do speeches or lead group meetings, and everything would be done via e-mail. Sadly, this is not the case. So if you’re anything like me when it comes to public speaking, you may want to think about taking up a language, or maybe take up a drama class. Don’t be afraid to do something out of your comfort zone, you never know how it may help you in the future.