12/25/18. 18:30. P7
/Public Speaking Practice/.
/Guide Question: It has been said that more people are afraid of public speaking than death; however, that fear erodes with practice. Would you consider practicing your public speaking while abroad by seeking out such opportunities? Have you had to speak in public while abroad? What was your experience?/
Some people are born as great public speakers, evoking the public’s emotions by the way they wield their words. For the most part, good public speakers come from practice. As a communications tutor while in community college, I worked with fellow students to refine their speeches, practice their delivery, and curb their stage fright. As such, although I do get nervous and strive to keep improving regardless, the stage is quite familiar territory. Unexpectedly, I got to practice my public speaking skills here more than I thought I would. For this semester alone, I made a total of eight presentations in my classes. In addition to these carefully prepared presentations, I managed to experience four instances of impromptu speech via interviews. Out of these twelve experiences, seven of them were in the Korean language and those instances were the most challenging yet most fulfilling experience I’ve ever had in public speaking.
Naturally, public speaking is encouraged in business classes because no matter what our concentration is, be it accounting, marketing, or finance, it is inevitable that we will share content and ideas with coworkers, customers, and superiors. As one goes up the corporate ladder, there is even a greater responsibility in managing people. I usually am very active in volunteering for presentations, not because I personally enjoy being on stage, but I feel it is an essential skill to have and I want to get better at talking to people just in case a situation arises in my career – and I’m sure it will – that I will represent my team or even my company (and I plan to be a worthy representative). After all, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere,” says Lee Iacocca (former Chrysler CEO), one of my favorite quotes on communication that I take to heart. Also, it has been a personal goal of mine to speak eloquently and express my ideas clearly and concisely whether over a tête-à-tête or within a group. Opportunities in public speaking is necessary to achieve that skill. There is no problem at all if one is well-prepared about the topic, all that’s left is to get over the anxiety and speak in a manner that is clear and audible. My business professor took photos before the presentations and unorthodox as that may be, I appreciate that the memory has been captured and I really have proof that I did this! :)) Do I look nervous?
It was very impressive to see that Korean presenters were very skilled in English (perhaps more than what the West give Asians credit for) and even during the Q&As, they can hold their own ground, language-wise.
However, speaking in Korean is a completely different story. In my Korean language class, we had four speeches we had to write and present to the class. The first time was nerve-wracking as I relied completely into memorizing line per line of the speech because I wasn’t fluent in Korean. The command I had over the English language allows me to just focus on the idea instead of the words so as even if I don’t know the exact line, I can still express what I want to say in different wording. I was quite helpless in Korean in the beginning but having the notes in front of me helped, and towards our last speech, it was a proud moment to see that everybody in my class improved so much and were more comfortable on stage.
Compared to a prepared, well-rehearsed speech, having interviews almost gave me a heart attack. I do not have 100% confidence in English interviews, and I just rely on doing my best but imagine doing an interview in another language where my Korean is equivalent to that of a 6-year old kid. Part of our exam in Korean language class was a speaking test, conducted via interview. I felt disappointed on both times I took it because even though I participate normally in class, I cannot seem to think and put two words together during this significant 10-minute interview. Both my listening and speaking are the skills I already have the hardest time developing, so you can just imagine there was already a lag while I try to interpret what my teacher asked me, let alone find the words how to express what I want to say and then figure out how to put it in grammar. The best way I can put it is my brain is likened to having a Windows 98 OS (loading… hold on… loading…). But despite the mistakes, if I managed to get across what I want to say, that is a success all to itself and I am proud of that. I always think that I could only grow from there.
This reminded me of a time when I just moved to the States. I had instances of “minor” bullying because some people made fun of my Filipino accent while speaking English and I was called a “FoB” (Fresh off the boat Asian). Back then I got hurt by the comments but got over it quickly enough to realize that regardless of what people say, my accent tells people where I am from and I am not ashamed of that. English may be important just because of historical economic and political circumstances that allowed it to be highly regarded but it is not above all other languages. Decades from now, another language may take English’s role today. I am reminded how important language study and living abroad is in terms of humbling people. If these were part of the curriculum and people experience how hard it is to not be in your comfortable element, perhaps we can learn to be more kind towards others, as we ourselves who are strangers in a foreign environment can only rely on our little knowledge and the kindness of others.