Enabling confidence !

Recently, I was listening to a celebrity speaker and he started by telling us,

” The number one fear for most people is the fear of speaking in public !”
And the number two fear – fear of flying !
” Any idea about the number three fear ?”, he asked and some one from the audience said “fear of speaking while flying ! “

Seriously, public speaking is not for the meek.

Last week, I spent two days in the sylvan settings of IICT(Indian Institute of Chemical Technology), Hyderabad. Sixty scientists, all pursuing their PhD from various CSIR labs across India had been huddled for an intense one month workshop on technology led entrepreneurship program.

Dr DVR Seshadri of IIM Bangalore was the anchor for this program, which involved renowned academics from IIMB and industry stalwarts talking to them about entrepreneurship, Business plans, Decision Analysis, Intellectual Property rights, Creativity and the like.

I handled the Communication skills workshop and on day two we had six participants make presentations for 4 minutes. One of them, Sridevi, a scholar from Pune had her right hand trembling throughout and was extremely uncomfortable. While she apologised for being a nervous wreck, I comforted her with the reassuring quote by Mark Twain – “there are only two types of speakers in this world- the nervous and the liars !”

I then asked if she would be willing to give the same presentation later in the evening standing behind the lectern. She agreed and I tweaked her speech to include a persuasive angle.
And when she did deliver the second time, the transformation was remarkable and she managed to handle a hostile question with poise. The audience gave her a sustained applause for one minute. They just couldn’t believe what they saw ! She stood still waiting for my feedback and I said after that one minute applause, any feedback would be superfluous. She’s promised to join the Pune Toastmasters to internalise the learning.

In my interaction with thousands of professional across sectors like IT, manufacturing, Services, I’ve found that we have extremely competent, technically brilliant associates but are found wanting when they need to articulate their views before a client or a boss. Enabling confidence is a huge challenge and I felt immensely satisfied about being a catalyst for this small but significant change.

No words will reflect my feelings better than this poem by Emily Dickinson

Drawing of American poet Emily Dickinson (10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)Image via Wikipedia

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Emily Dickinson


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