The joys of public speaking…but what topic should I talk about?

The joys of public speaking…but what topic should I talk about?

May 12, 2015 4:25 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

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“If you can speak you can influence, if you can influence you can change lives” 

(Rob Brown, 2013)

The subject I chose to talk to my fellow delegates on the JCI UK 2015 Public Speaking Academy was around the question ‘what public speaking topic should I choose’?  Picking such a topic allowed me to talk about the pressure that I, and I’m sure many of the other delegates felt under, as well as all the key considerations that flooded my mind, when thinking about what to speak to them about.

On reflection and perhaps with a little common sense… (?) I suppose it wasn’t actually surprised that we had been asked to prepare and structure a speech, for the public speaking academy.  You would think that wouldn’t you, but for me, I felt surprised, shocked and stunned when I realized I had somehow managed to completely bypass the videos and instructions posted on the facebook group for delegates, until chatting to Ben from JCI Barnsley the week before, when he asked me what topic had I chosen to talk about!  Whoops!

It is often said that most people dread public speaking more so than the fear of death.  That’s right, apparently people would rather die than speak in public!  One survey found 45% chose public speaking as their number one fear, compared to 31% who said death!  Is that really true?  If it is, what is it about public speaking that fills us with dread?  The fear of forgetting what we were going to say?  The fear of pitching your talk at the wrong level (too complicated so its over your audience’s head, too simplistic and you’ve lost them)? Or perhaps the fear of looking stupid?  These reasons and many more, boil down to just that…fear.

Why is it that we would quite easily ‘give people a break’ if we were watching and listening to them and they stumbled over their words, got a bit tongue tied or forgot their point?  Why is it ok for them and not for us?  Like many others, I could be my own worst enemy, or rather, a little voice that is often chirping away in my head, could be my worst enemy.  ‘You could have done that better?’ says this voice often?  ‘You should have said that’, its says…’you forgot to say that!’

Don’t get me wrong, having such an ‘internal thermometer’ for want of a better word, does help me to keep high standards and strive to ‘be better’; its just sometimes, I wish I could settle for doing ‘ok’!  So knowing that whatever topic I choose to talk about could give information, could inspire or motivate or the ideal in my opinion, do all these things, did put the pressure on.  The expectation to deliver ‘a corker’, to pass on ‘words of wisdom’ and to ultimately ignite the audience’s passion to encourage them to make a change, was, I thought, a big deal!

Ultimately, I was comfortable with struggling to have chosen what to talk about and to have agonized over my subject matter.  Having the floor is a privilege, having an attentive audience is an honour and public speaking is powerful.

“If you can speak you can influence, if you can influence you can change lives”

(Rob Brown, 2013)

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  • JCI Sheffield is holding a Public Speaking Workshop on Tuesday 18th August 2015 6:30pm in Sheffield
  • The JCI Yorkshire Regiona Public Speaking Competition will take place on Tuesday 8th September 2015 at 7pm, hosted by JCI Barnsley


Mark Smith

2015 President


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This post was written by makedo

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