Confidence to conquer!

Last week, in college, I was asked to talk on a particular topic. The topic was given to me well in advance and I had also done my best by searching the web and went through a lot of books to give it my all on that day.  The day had come to give a talk for around 5 minutes and I was called upon stage. I seemed quiet confident and after greeting my friends, BOOM! I went blank. I did not know what to talk and when I somehow gathered that confidence to talk, I did not know where to start. Finally, I started off and gave a very boring, monotonous speech which I am sure none of my friends enjoyed. I felt completely dejected and ashamed of myself and did not have the strength to face any of my friends.

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On my way back home, I was constantly questioning myself as to what went wrong and what I lack. Did I not prepare well? Is my spoken English bad? The answers for these two questions were a BIG NO! I realized that I am constantly worried if my friends would make fun of me or if the teacher is going to blame me for something or the other. I am constantly thinking about completely unnecessary stuff when I go up on stage.

Experts say, it’s the constant pressure that children are put under, builds stage fear in them. This pressure may be from the parents, teachers or the peer gang. But, what I feel is that, it’s the lack of self confidence in children that leads to the stage fear. If, I am not confident enough with a subject, there is a constant fear in my mind that pulls the confidence level down and ultimately leads to a bad show on stage.  And, of course, lack of practice. Lack of practice plays a huge role in a person’s self confidence level.  When I say practice, I just don’t mean practicing math problems or recollecting the thousands of  derivations in physics. I mean the practice of going up on stage and facing the audience. This should be done by parents right from the pre-school times of the child. Not letting the child participate in events, making fun of the child when she practices, telling him that his friends are much better than him will definitely bring the confidence in the child’s mind down. This will continue for all the years to come.

Why does this happen even if you have practiced n number of times? Most of us have a set of assumptions built up inside our head. We think we need to reach a standard set by our seniors or teachers. Yes we should. But, that shouldn’t cost your confidence.  When you are at ease and practice, you will automatically reach that standard. Another assumption is that we need to please or impress our loved ones. No. that’s definitely not true. A few years down the line your lover might not even remember that you gave a speech. And, I have also seen my friend stammering just because she thinks her classmates are smarter than her. They might be smart, but when you are on stage, you are their master. You are EVERYONE’s master.

Some teachers have also advised me to look into the mirror and practice my speech before I go on stage. But experts say that, while looking into the mirror, a child definitely gains confidence but is more interested in the facial expressions like the eye movement or the movement of the lips while pronouncing tough words. So, talking to a mirror will pull down your self-confidence on stage at least by a bit.

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So, what does it take to put up a perfect show? First of all, come out of your shell. If you are not able to open it, break it open. If your non confident, it doesn’t mean that you are incapable. Be sure of what you are going to talk. Second of all, take risks. Do not look at them as risks. Look at them as opportunities to make you open up and explore something you thought you weren’t capable of. When you practice, give yourself a pat on your back now and then. Give yourself credit for giving a flawless speech. But, make sure you are your own fair judge. You must evaluate yourself correctly and not give compliments for nothing.

I also see a lot of soft skills development companies coming up in the cities. When I read one of their booklets, it says ‘they work with you to build your communication skills and increase your potential to work with others.’ But, don’t you think we are already masters in soft skills? You and I know English. We know to talk to people, which is nothing but communicating. And most of us have played cricket or football or basketball or at least we have sat together and played carom. We know what it takes to make our team win. When we have it all, why spend your money to learn the in-built potentials? Just brush them once by learning the basics and building the confidence. Go for it!

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