My English Journal 005: speaking in public
Ever felt nervous when speaking to a group of people? Your legs tremble, your feet shake, a chill creeps up your vertebra, as if you were stripped in front of them? That's called --- stage fright. Don't worry. No one is better than you.
Speaking in front of a group of lawyers is anything but an easy task. I started with a “precaution” – “please pardon me if I am too nervous, because I have never faced so many lawyers in my life.”
I was actually meaning to say – I am so used to talking to A lawyer, a beautiful American lawyer back home.
The minute I got to the slides tailor-made for the legal meeting, nervousness snapped away – it was my expertise after all. Why would an expert be nervous talking to an audience of amateurs?
English, again, is so powerful a weapon an MNC practitioner can be equipped with. People would be secretly waiting to judge your professionalism by the way you deliver your speech. I let them down, didn’t I?
But I noticed that I, too, couldn’t help but repeat certain “catch words” of my own whenever I felt comfortable or uncomfortable, like what every public speech maker would do. Everyone has his/her signature “pre-fabricated chunks” as defined in linguistics. Some prefers ‘eh’, or ‘you know’, while others ‘last but not least’ or similar clichés. No one utters those words intentionally; rather, they just spring up your mouth without your knowledge when you stammer or fail to find the right words to continue the train of thoughts or speech.
The ‘prefabricated chunk’ I used a lot was ‘in other words’ which I employed to rephrase or reiterate some jargon. It must have been funny for the audience to hear me redefine nearly every terminology with ‘in other words’ that sounded often like ‘another word’.
Gesture is another tool that comes handy for a speech maker. I like to hold a pen in one hand with the other waving to supplement the emphasis I make. Thanks to the invention of PPT pointer, one won’t have to be awkward any more with his/her hands in front of people. Isn’t it wired that our hands would appear redundant while speaking? You know what I mean if you have made a public speech.