6 Myths About Public Speaking


Public speaking is a daunting task for many people. It gives us cold sweats when we speak in front of a large audience or just a room full of people. It is feared as there is always a chance of rejection or embarrassment. It is already a herculean task for many and then there are many misconceptions, fallacies or old wives’ tales that surround public speaking. These myths add another stress to the pile that already existed.  Many of the misconceptions you unknowingly cling to don’t do you any real harm. But clinging onto the false belief of public speaking which is popular, does harm us. It holds us back and becomes a hindrance in our journey to success.

Many people believe these myths and assume that if they’re not natural-born speakers or not professional speakers, they can’t speak fluently with success. Due to such and many more misconceptions or myths, many people don’t even try. Some people give up before they even reach half of their potential.

Don’t let these myths discourage you from stepping up and delivering that speech. Here are some myths that surround public speaking.



1. You’re born with it

Public speaking is a talent that anyone and everyone can possess with hard work and practice. It is a typical myth that some people are just “natural” speakers and born with a “gift”. It is a talent that anyone and everyone can possess from hard work and practice. When it comes to public speaking, no one is a “natural”. 

Speaking is one of those skills where talent helps, but practice helps more. Some people may be more confident “naturally” when it comes to speaking in front of a crowd or to stand in front of an audience with a loud voice to convey what they want to pass on. But nobody can become great at anything with talent or personality alone. Sure, it is a plus point, but it takes practice and effort over time.

If you think you’re dull or soft-spoken and can’t speak in front of masses, it is fine. It is a misconception that if you’re not confident enough or a bit dull, then you will be a bad speaker. You can overcome it and become well with time, it’s just that you need to work harder on your skills and polish them. You can become better and overcome it with tips and hacks for better public speaking.

One of the examples is of King George VI who had a problem of stammering and feared giving speeches. But when his country went into the war, he trained and overcame his fear of public speaking and addressed the people of his country for World War II.



2. Introverts can’t be good speakers

It is a common myth that introverts are not good public speakers. According to the definition, introverts are shy and quiet people. They don’t really like being in the limelight or get much attention to themselves. They moreover like to be alone than being in the company of huge groups or in a crowd. So, it is generally assumed that they don’t make a good public speaker. But it is far from the truth. Introverts can actually make excellent public speakers. Susan Cain, who has written a bestselling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. Introverts may not just jump up in front of an audience and start speaking but when they do by overcoming their trait i.e., to avoid speaking in front of a crowd, they are extraordinary.

Here are some of the most famous introverted speakers that you may have heard about; 
Bill Gates, Susan Cain actually quotes in her book about him as, “Bill Gates is quiet and bookish, but apparently unfazed by others’ opinions of him: he’s an introvert, but not shy." 
J.K. Rowling, yes this phenomenal author too is an introvert who has given speeches and is a public speaker.

Emma Watson, she said that she is an introvert but we all see her giving her speeches on International platforms like the UN. 

Mahatma Gandhi was an introvert according to sources, but his speeches moved masses and changed this nation. 

Abraham Lincoln was an introvert. But his speeches were remarkable, as one of his best-remembered speech, ‘The Gettysburg Address’.



3. Nervousness is for the novice

Regardless of how “experienced” a person is, they all face pre-performance jitters. Many of us worry that it is a sign of weakness or a sign that you aren’t good enough as you’re just a beginner, but the reality is it’s common to get nervous no matter how experienced or polished you are. The most experienced public speakers or personalities also get that adrenaline rush or that stage fright before going up for their performance. The secret is how to transform that intense energy into a fuel that will help you in that speech of yours. There are several ways to overcome stage-fright that can help you calm your nerves. The simplest of all is to take in deep long breaths and count till ten just before that speech.

This nervousness that we experience before a public speaking makes us extra cautious and increases the sense of awareness, but many times fires back when we let that nerve reach our head. Always keep in your mind, that nervousness is a very common and elementary part of giving a speech. Don’t believe in the myth that only a novice gets nervous and not an expert when it comes to public speaking. 

Richard Branson is one of the best speakers. He admits that he gets nervous in public speaking and has been since he was a teenager. Nerves are normal, they don’t need to be eliminated but put into perspective.



4. Only humour is relatable

It is advised that you should add humour in your speech to break the ice with the audience. Some people don’t think that they’re funny, for them adding humour to the speech is an added pressure and if the humour is forced or used without thinking properly, it can go very wrong. The situation can be awkward or offensive for the worse. A sense of humour is how you understand the joke, and not everyone has the same sense of humour.

Try finding irony; it can be a good tool for public speaking. Observe and try to find a shared experience. Instead of making jokes on others, try poking jokes on yourself.

If humour is not your so going forte, so don’t feel pressured to open your speech with jokes and witty comebacks. You don’t have to be Kevin Hart or Kenny Sebastian. Forced or pressurised humour can backfire easily. Instead of a corny joke, start with a personal anecdote of yours or use quotes or just offer exclusive information. Humours, isn’t the only way to engage your audience and there are other ways in which your audience can relate to.



5. Labyrinthine words make a good speech

Delivering a good speech is more than just in the words you’re speaking. There is this fallacy that complex and big words or tough vocabulary makes a speech better. Beginners most of the times believe that putting in hard and complex sentences with twisted and tough metaphors make the speech more beautiful, it is not. Metaphors, vocabularies are important, but it shouldn’t be so tough that the audience loses their interest. It should be written in a manner that the audience can easily understand your idea.

Body language, voice modulation, presentation, your whole posture decides how well your speech is, and not just the words. The best speakers walk around and use hand gestures working the crowd. Plan the points or times where you can add hand motions and body movement to emphasize a point. This can help you in making a connection with the audience. Words are the ingredients for your speech, how you present it as a dish actually leaves an impact. It is just not about the words, but in how well you put it forth.



6. Memorize the speech

One of the most common beliefs of novice speakers is that if they memorize the full speech there will be no room for error. Giving a speech is not reciting a monologue for a play or memorizing lines like an actor. If speeches are mugged up and memorized line by line, there are many chances that it will be flat and monotonous to the audience. 

When it is advised that one should practice or rehearse their speech, again and again, many beginners think it that they are being told to cram up their speech for their performance. This misbelief is very common, and due to this when people just learn their speeches they freeze or blank out many times. Practicing and rehearsing is advised so that a person can polish their overall presence and presentation.

A person should only memorize their key and main points and not the whole speech line by line. Tony Robbins is a performance coach who has been giving a presentation to a huge audience for over than three decades. He says if you memorise the whole speech over and over again, it will give you a flat affect. The person giving the speech should be flexible and in the moment and keep it real and raw. If you don’t enjoy it, the audience won’t and it cannot become memorable.
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‘Myths which are believed in tend to become true.’ – George Orwell
So, try and try again. Don’t believe some misconceptions that the society has set up for us. If you keep believing in the myths then you might lag far behind. This will act as a wall between you and your success. So, go ahead and try or else you will never know your worth or the potential you can reach to. Don’t stay behind in the fear of making mistakes or waiting for that perfect strike to reach a perfect score. Mistakes are inevitable and perfection is a myth.

- Nivedita Kundu

Source: https://mindgrad.com/free-reads/f/6-myths-about-public-speaking

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6 Myths About Public Speaking 6 Myths About Public Speaking Reviewed by EMN on March 13, 2019 Rating: 5

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