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Public Speaking and Why it is Important

I remember that day very well. I was at my desk when my manager walked up to me with a big smile. “Hey Mayur, I have been asked to attend
15 Sep 2018 10:54
Public Speaking and Why it is Important
Mayur Kalbag

I remember that day very well.

I was at my desk when my manager walked up to me with a big smile.

“Hey Mayur, I have been asked to attend an international sales conference in Aus­tralia and due to this I will not be able to make the next week’s presentation to our Malaysian clients who will be here to visit our factory.

“I therefore would like the presentation to be done and delivered by you. I thought of a few other guys for making the presenta­tion but then you are, according to me, bet­ter than the others.

“I will be flying to Sydney tomorrow as I want to also meet up with our Australian customers.”

I was completely taken aback and also a bit upset at my manager’s words.

“Why me?” I wondered.

The presentation was a very important one, especially since it was to be done for a special group of clients from Malaysia.

Although it was to begin a week later, I had already started to become fearful and nervous about it.

Some of my colleagues even made fun of me and expressed their relief at not being chosen for making the presentation.

I felt like as though the manager had some grudge against me and hence had asked me to make the presentation.

On the day of the presentation, I was ex­periencing extreme nervousness and fear.

Doubts

What If I fail? What if I forget and go blank during my presentation? Will they ask me too many questions? What will hap­pen if I make a bad presentation and leave a bad impression upon the Malaysian cli­ents?

My mind was completely flooded with all these questions and I did not know what to do about it.

I somehow managed to create Power Point Slides and also jotted a few pertinent points on my note pad, but honestly, I was really mad at my Manager for selecting me for it.

The time to make the presentation had come.

I prepared the LCD Projector and connect­ed my Laptop to it only to realize that I had mistakenly deleted three of my important slides from the entire set of ‘presentation slides.

By now most of the Malaysian clients had arrived in the room and were excitedly waiting to see and listen to my presenta­tion.

I was sweating despite the air condition­ing in the room.

The indication was given to me by one of my colleagues to begin.

I took a deep breath and began my pres­entation with a warm greeting to everyone present in the conference room.

To my surprise almost all the Malaysian clients reciprocated their greetings collec­tively almost in one voice.

I was pleasantly surprised and in a way I felt a strong streak of confidence emerging from within me.

I felt a sort of a positive boost and I started presenting to them about our organisation.

There were more than fifty people in that conference room and each of them was lis­tening to me attentively.

An hour later I concluded my presenta­tion and thanked the entire audience for their attentive and patient listening.

One by one each of the Malaysian clients came up to me and thanked me for deliver­ing a good presentation.

“Was I really that good?” I asked myself.

It was at that very moment a gentleman walked up to me.

Honest reaction

He was also from Malaysia and a bit el­derly.

“Mr Mayur, I came all the way from Malaysia to visit your factory and to at­tend your presentation and I must admit, though I was truly impressed with your or­ganisation and the factory I am quite dis­appointed with your presentation.

“You were just reading from your slides and not effectively engaging with us in in­teractive conversations.

“Even some of our pertinent queries were not answered properly.

“I know and I could see that you were ex­tremely nervous and the question is why.

“I am sure you must have prepared for this presentation but why were you so nervous and fearful? Were we looking like lions ready to pounce upon you?

“I will not say that your presentation was a complete disaster but I must confess it was not impactful, interactive and inspir­ing at all.”

All his words were hurting me like thorns but guess what, this gentleman was not wrong.

While most of the others said some nice things here was a person who was extreme­ly honest and I actually realised that he was totally correct in his observations.

I couldn’t hide my dejected look and he noticed it too.

Instead of walking away he stood there and began speaking to me again.

“Mr Mayur, I know my words may have hurt you but I don’t like to be dishonest.

“You seem to be a very competent execu­tive in this organisation but there is one big weakness you have and this weakness is your lack of public speaking skills.

“Remember you must that even your best knowledge needs to be presented in the best possible manner.

“You were not prepared and were lacking self-confidence.

“I also believe you were not happy that you were made to make the presentation.”

“How did you notice that?” I asked the gentleman.

“Oh yes, I noticed you were very anxious to finish the presentation.

You seemed in a hurry and to me ‘hurry creates worry.”

“Sir, I am very sorry that you were disap­pointed with my presentation,” I told him.

“A sorry will not be enough,” he said.Promise

“I want you to make me a promise. I will be visiting your factory once again three months later and I will be keen to sit for a presentation which will be made by only you.

“I want you to do whatever it takes to im­prove yourself in all the areas related to public speaking and presentation skills.

“I want to see a superb transformation in you. Will you do it?”

“Yes sir, I will,” I said.

He smiled and walked away.

His words were not only very honest but also extremely helpful.

I realised that the time had come for me to do something and I did it.

In my next column I will take you through my journey of positive transformation and how I became a very effective public speaker.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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