The double edged sword | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 22, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 22, 2016

Speaking in Public

The double edged sword

"Words have incredible power. They can make people's hearts soar, or they can make people's hearts sore.”- Dr. Mardy Grothe

My heart beat hard against my chest with every step I took towards the pedestal. Expectant eyes stared back at me, waiting for me to deliver something amazing. My throat was dry and my palms were sweaty. For a split second I wondered if I should just bolt. But I gathered myself, took a deep breath, and started.

I was delivering a speech for the public speaking session of BYLC's Building Bridges through Leadership Training programme. Over the past week, we learned how to give an effective speech to inspire and mobilise a group towards a cause or an idea. Words are powerful. In the case of Bangladesh, one man's words were enough to inspire a nation of people to fight to liberate a country! Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's powerful speech on 7th March, 1971 still sends a shiver down the spines of every Bangladeshi and reminds everyone about the dream of independence and the struggle for freedom.

My speech was about Bangladeshi identity and how the influence of Indian channels is distracting younger generations from discovering and cherishing Bangladeshi culture. I gave an example of my cousin who watches hours of Hindi dubbed Cartoon Network and has turned out to speak better Hindi than Bangla! I tried to utilise the tips we were taught, to add flavour to my speech. I projected my voice so that the students in the back could hear me, I made eye contact with everyone in the room so that everyone would feel connected, and I made sure my body language demonstrated confidence.

It is imperative that a leader learns the right public speaking skills in order to be taken seriously. I say learn, because the perception that leaders are naturally gifted speakers, is a myth. One has to work hard in order to master the art of public speaking. Practicing in front of a mirror or doing breathing exercises might feel odd, but they are extremely helpful in curbing anxiety and feeling confident in front of an audience.

I am particularlyinspired by Jose Mourinho, the most successful manager of Chelsea football club, whose perseverance for excellence lifted his team from being underdogs to champions. His words, "I won't say we have to win. I won't put that pressure. But we can't lose.”really struck me and I'm reminded of them in moments where I feel like I am struggling or failing. Someday, I wish to be a teacher, for which being a dynamic and charismatic speaker is vital. Being an engineering student, I wish to inspire the love of science into younger generations. With this thirst to serve my society and nation, I want to actively work for the development of my community and I want to engage those like to me reach achieve purpose in their lives. This keeps me motivated to ace public speaking because I believe that the significance of communication skills is invaluable. So I am motivated to study the technicalities for mastering public speaking, practice my delivery, and evaluate my progress. The right words at the right moment, expressed with passion can do wonders to catalyze positive change.

The writer is a graduate of Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center's eleventh Bridges through Leadership Training program, and is currently studying Electric and Electronic Engineering at North South University.

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