Public Speaking

November 29, 2008

Public speaking is an important communication skill. The thought of speaking in public gives shivers to many. However, we need not worry. Most of the well-known public speakers have been through this phobia and conquered it. Like any skill, public speaking can be mastered with a consistent effort. The essential thing is to follow the basics of communication.


The 4 W’s and 1 H of Public Speaking

WHO is this speech for?

Gather information about your audience. Who will be present to hear your speech, their socio-economic profile, interests etc. It is critical to find out their perceptions on the issue/topic you are going to speak on. This helps in deciding the contents of the speech.


WHAT am I going to tell the audience?

Keeping in mind the profile/interest/perceptions of the audience, you can decide the content of the speech. It is important to do the ground work properly, gather latest information on the subject, check your facts with the right sources, brainstorm for ideas that would appeal to your audience and then organize your contents. It is important to remember that communciaotn is art of simplification. So, present the technical facts in as simple a way as possible unless the audience includes all technical people.

It is also important not to keep too many ideas. If we try to include every thing, the main message is lost. Audience can never absorb/remember all the ideas. So, key is to prioritize and be focused


WHAT is the occasion/event where you are to speak?

A good sense of occasion is critical. The historical significance, if captured in an interesting way makes your speech different. In addition to knowing the audience, it is also equally important to know about the organizers. What is the event they have invited you to speak you in. Who are other speakers, if any and what are their topics. What is the agenda and what is your turn to speak? Nothing can be more boring for the audience to listen to different speakers on the same topic. It is useful to know the arrangements in the venue like the availability of audio-visual aids, public address system etc. on the venue.


HOW long is the speech expected to be?

Sense of timing is the key. Find out from the organizer about the time that is available for your speech. It is never a good idea to overshoot your time, and it is very embarrassing for someone to remind you to cut-it-short while you are speaking. Practice your speech and see if you can finish it in the allotted time. It is also important to be flexible and make last minute changes in your speech to adjust to the time available particularly if other spears have overshot their time.


… you are now ready to finalize your speech, but hang on. Do the last filter. Ask yourself.


WHY should the audience listen to me?

Is there something new/different/interesting in my speech that will catch the attention of the audience and they will remember me for. No speech should be finalized without this final filter.  A bit of humour, an anecdote, a relevant example, a good beginning and a good end are the elements that are essential.


…Now you have the speech ready. The next, and most critical step is to practice public speaking. More follows.



How to build a high self esteem?

July 20, 2008

A boy of sixth standard once shared with me, “I have no brother or sister and I am too short”. His classmates were taller than him, and often talked about their siblings in the hostel, which he was unable to do, and therefore felt sad. He had a low self esteem. Our subsequent discussion led to the following:
 He loved his parents, found them very affectionate and caring. He realized that he was better off than many children, who don’t have parents.
 He was studying in a good school whereas several children of his age are on streets, struggling for survival and never get to go to a school.
 He had a good health. He was very talented and good in studies as well as sports.
 He was happy to note that height of a person does not stand in the way of his achievements. His idol cricketer Sachin Tendulkar is short too but stands tallest in Cricket field with all his achievements.
He felt much better towards the end – already on the road of building a high self esteem. We concluded: It is better to think of what we have rather than worrying about what we what we don’t have. Being mindful of good things in life is the first step towards building a high self esteem. He was relieved, and smiled at the end. The session did a lot of good to my own self esteem as sharing always does.
Reasons for low self esteem may vary from person to person. However, some common reasons are: doubts about self appearance (height, weight, colour of skin etc.), not- so – happy experiences in life ( failure to make a mark in studies, exams, careers), dissatisfaction with achievements/career growth, breakdown in relationships, lack of adequate attention by next and dear ones etc.
A two-pronged strategy helps in improving self esteem:
a. Find reasons for low self esteem and address them
Try the following steps:
1. Make a list of things/experiences that bother you about your self and create a doubt in your mind.
2. For each of these, ask your self, are these real? If yes, then why? You may also consider discussing with a friend, whom you trust. You may end up dropping some from the list. Good beginning. You have dropped some of the burden you were carrying, and now you have a shorter list.
3. Take a closer look a the list now, and ask yourself a question. Am I the only one facing this/have gone through this or there are others as well?. Think how people have reacted to them, how have they worked on their short comings rather than living with a feeling of self pity. You can also do the same.
4. Make a list of good things in your life. We often think of things that we don’t have rather than being grateful for what we have.
b. Do things that are good for self esteem
• Consistently improve your knowledge- read more, watch the news and be abreast with things happening in the world around you.
• Upgrade your skills like communication, public speaking, sports etc
• Try to look as best as you can. Take care of your health, clothes, and shoes.
• Share what you have with others.
• Do something for those who are less privileged.

Now, make an action plan and implement it honestly. As self esteem is how you feel about yourself, only you can change it.


June 16, 2008

A positive attitude opens the doors to success in every sphere of life.

Organizations accord more importance to attitude than to knowledge or skills when recruiting. A person with a positive attitude is a quick learner, a good team player, and brings in positive energy into the group he/she belongs to.


Persons of positive attitude are popular in their organization/circle, they are perceived as approachable, helpful, transparent and trustworthy. Colleagues and friends confide in them and come to them for advice in personal and professional matters.


Now, if a positive attitude is so important to success, we must find out if we have one.  

We have designed a simple test of the key determinants of attitude to enable you to rank yourself on a scale of one to ten, and thus know where you stand on the attitide scale. The test also enables you to find out areas on which you should work to further fine-tune your atitude. 


While reactions to this post are invited here, those keen to recieve the attitude scale test and feedback tips for a personalized response – at no cost at all – can write to


In this section of the blog, we will write our views/tips, invite responses/experiences from readers, and facilitate sharing for the benefit of all of us on developing positive attitude, staying positive, and life experiences/stories of positive people.