Sep 21, 2011

Mr Wang Gets On Stage

Apart from my exam, I will be speaking at a industry conference sometime next week.

It's a highly technical topic - legal issues concerning the central clearing of OTC derivatives, as mandated by the G20 countries.

(If this topic isn't actually relevant to your career, you would probably find my presentation to be an excellent cure for insomnia).

This would be my 3rd or 4th time speaking at an industry conference. So it's not a new experience for me. In case you're wondering, no, I don't get paid for speaking. But in return for doing a one-hour talk, I get to attend the entire conference for free (the usual fee would be a few thousand dollars).

The other benefit of speaking at a conference is that it is a very good self-learning experience. You may already be an expert in a particular area. But the process of preparing your presentation will itself compel you to do more research; check your facts and deepen your own understanding. So you become an even better expert.

Occasionally, one or two colleagues of mine will also get approached to speak at a conference. They often reject the invitation. I think that part of the reason is that they have a fear (or at least some apprehension) of public speaking.

Today, I can honestly say that I have no fear of public speaking. Of course, it wasn't always that way. But over the years, I have done public speaking so many times (and in so many different contexts) that today, it is an entirely non-frightening thing for me.

I have emcee'd many events (wedding dinners, legal seminars). I have done poetry readings. I have argued cases in court. I have conducted many in-house training sessions. I performed some drama when I was in university. Oh, and I love to lead the yaaaaamm-SENG! cheering at every traditional Chinese wedding dinner.

So I have no fear of public speaking.

How to deal with nervousness about public speaking? The main thing is just to remember that the audience doesn't bite.

They aren't there to embarrass or humiliate you. They don't want you to fail. Instead they just want to learn something useful, to hear something new or interesting. They are hoping that you will be able to tickle and entertain  their brain cells for an hour or so. That is all. And if you can do it with a dash of colour and style, so much the better.

So just get out there and speak. Remember - they don't bite.


JT said...

That's really easier said than done, but I'll try to keep that soundbite in mind....that they don't bite!

Thanks for sharing the experience, and keep up the insightful posts.

Isabel Tan Cjinh Ping said...

:) Are you SURE you're an INTJ :) Sounds like you've turned into an ENTJ!!! :D

Anonymous said...

3 reasons why people do public speaking.

1. Being respected or admired so therefore invited to speak.
2. By virtue of being in authority or position and hence as a necessity to speak.
3. Self volunteer because of passion for it.

For the 1st 2 reasons, why should there be fear or feel embarassed, unless the speaker feels he is not deserving of the respect or of his position? Or beneath his dignity to speak?

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

That's very logical. However, people's fears are often irrational. Eg fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of the dark, fear of flying, fear of cats or dogs or lizards. The person may already know very well that his fear is irrational, but it doesn't necessarily mean that his fear will then go away.

Lucky Tan said...

I was assigned to give a few talks to university students recently.

My first reaction was to whine half an hour at the organiser about being he wrong person to be chosen for the talk. However, after giving the 1st one, I found that I enjoyed it and volunteered to take over the other speaker's material and do the whole thing.

I don't give talks often but I do a routine one every year to about 300 people. The 1st time I rattled on like a robot wondering if any understood or was interested in the material - great misfortune of having my boss sit in the audience for that one. The following year, I decided to I had nothing much to lose and stepped down from the podium, told a few jokes and had it done townhall style where the audience fired away questions enthusiastically....and I enjoyed the experience.

Now everytime I speak, I tell myself "make it enjoyable, nothing to lose".