Marcus Tullius Cicero; January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC, is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists. Using his talents he earned his way to be elected consul, the highest ranking office in Roman Republic. At the end of his life, he became an enemy of Mark Antony, attacking him in a series of speeches. Marc Antony (through the Second Triumvirate) had Cicero declared an enemy of the state and subsequently killed in 43 BC. His head and hands were cut off and nailed on the Rostra in the Forum Romanum, where orators spoke.

And while many people who think about talking to an audience imagine similar dramatic consequences, today’s reality is somewhat different: Let’s consider several types of public speakers, who most of us can easily refer to: college professors.

I studied electrical engineering and had an opportunity to witness a remarkable example of public speaking phobia. That professor was a bright guy and was later nominated to be a chair of our department, but the fear of public speaking really got in his way. His lecture was an hour of pain for him and for the students. He would come into a class all sweaty and shook like a leaf; most of the time he spent stuttering, excusing himself, and avoiding eye contact with the audience, making his pupils impatient and frustrated.

My other professor had absolutely no problem talking to an audience: no fear, no nervousness, no interest too -- just a m o n o t o n e quiet voice describing the life of electrons. The only time I fell asleep in class was during one of his lectures. It started quite casually: 20 sleepers out of a 100 in the first 10 minutes, so far nothing special. A digital presentation followed. Ah, a soft vibration of the projector screen, and 30 more students drifted away. At some point the professor looked around the room (I guess he missed 50 people sleeping), and said that perhaps the projector screen would look better if the lights were turned down. That was it for me. Twenty minutes later I was awakened by my neighbor’s yawn, felt the warmth of my body in the chair, and noticed that we had about 5 survivors (3 fanatics and 2 insomniacs).

Luckily there was a professor whose appearance in a class room would be like a gust of fresh breeze - awakening and refreshing. I recall we all remarked that he was our best prof for that year. We were looking forward to his lectures. Throwing in a joke here and there, he enjoyed himself and enjoyed what he was doing. During his lectures (and while studying afterwards) I was no longer a bored engineering student, I was a scientist who was discovering a challenging, real and relevant problem, something that I craved for right from the beginning of school.

So what makes a difference? Well, when you think about other people giving speeches, become aware of the intensity of your feelings. Then STOP and think about the next speech you need or want to give, and become aware of the intensity of your feelings now. Notice the difference. “Well, you asked me to think about someone else. That’s different.” – from what you’re doing now, but If you think about giving a speech from a point of view of one of the people from an audience, looking at yourself giving a speech, then your experience is completely different.

Seeing things from a different perspective is one of the foundational tools we use at “My Proudest Moment” to coach you to a become a dynamic and engaging speaker.

Author's Bio: 

One can say I was raised on weddings.

I was born on a cold winter morning, February 16th 1983, in Odessa, Ukraine; a city known for its unique charisma and often referred to as humour capital of the world. My early childhood memories began with an old black and white photograph: there I was, a little active devil, who was running around a banquet hall for half an hour and who was holding a three liter can of black caviar, (an very expensive delicatessen these days), but a quite affordable and frequent wedding dish during the days of the Soviet Union. My grandmother was a top chef at what would now be referred to as a banquet hall. During the wedding season, I frequently witnessed young couples breaking glasses for good luck, and hearing glass splattering over a concrete surface; observing up to 150 people filling their tummies with yummies, after which they would show off their dance skills, while listening to the band playing famous local songs mixed from different cultures: Jewish, Russian, Ukrainian and Moldavian. A special day for the “just married”; a work day for my grandma; an evening of excitement and joy for myself; and quite often a challenging experience for the father of the bride.

Of all wedding attendees, I particularly remember a bold gentleman wearing glasses and a white suit. He went onto the stage to give a five minute “father of the bride” speech. He took the mike, fixed his glasses, then introduced himself, and fixed his glasses again. I was standing in the back row, but even from there I could see that he was sweaty and nervous. He started talking, and immediately broke down into tears. To help himself cope with the experience, he pulled out a piece of paper with his speech written on it, but soon after reading the first sentence, he was overwhelmed by his emotions again and stopped. It was an awkward pause … for everyone and the air was tense. In a few moments he continued and struggled to the finish. I felt compassion for the gentleman and wondered: what was the difference between him, and the other speakers, who spoke with confidence and joy?

Well as Summer drew to an end, I returned to school. I remember sitting one day in English class, somewhat bored, listening to our teacher trying to explain the same material to my friend for the third time. While I was dazed, looking at warm and green colors of flowers resting peacefully on a windowsill, occasionally staring at the reflection of the sun, I was suddenly interrupted by my teacher, who gave up and decided that I should try to explain the material. I really don’t know the reason behind it, maybe it was the level of rapport I had with my friend or my strong belief in his abilities or my flexibility in being able to help people to have a different perspective on things, so that they respond differently. Regardless of the reason for being asked, I was surprised how quickly and naturally my friend understood grammatical rules and could apply them immediately following my explanation! When I look back at the moments of my childhood mentioned above, those are two of the many experiences that shaped the foundations for the future.

Lo and behold- lots of changes awaited me when I turned 17: my family finally had all the paperwork ready to be able to move to Canada, and so we did. Soon I became an engineering student, and I had an opportunity to develop some skills in creating mathematical and physical models of the world. My work experience as an engineer primarily consisted of localizing failure within a device and determining its’ root cause.

My next career was in a different field: our family logistics business. I was responsible for optimizing business processes, hiring and training drivers. Even though I enjoyed taking items apart, making things better and teaching drivers how to perform their duties, I always felt that my heart belonged someplace else. My interests focused on how the brain works, how I could become smarter, and how I’d learn to assist people to operate better in the world. My passions led me to an interesting TV show dedicated to psychology.

There was an engaging conversation about life’s values and purposes in relationship to people’s age. The main guest of the show said an interesting phrase that -instead of being concerned with chicks, cars and clothes, young men should stop and asks themselves a question: what is it that they want to dedicate their life to. I asked myself that question. The answer came within a few days. I realized that I want to dedicate my life to utilizing all my skills, knowledge and abilities to guide people on how to get to where they want to be, and how, in the processs, to have as smooth of a ride as possible, so that they can achieve their goals, have an interesting and engaging life and charm audiences with their charisma … easily.