Questions to and Answers from Noam Carmichael

Jason Fredericks asks: Noam, I want to speak publicly but honestly I am afraid of being a fool at it, or attacked for it. Any advice?

I think it is pretty much like anything else. Some people probably have something of a natural aptitude for it, like some have unusual aptitude for playing piano or shooting baskets. But my guess is that the difference between having that aptitude and not having it is pretty modest. I think in the case of public speaking the larger variable is preparing well and practicing a lot. The more you do it the more comfortable you get – but, also, the more you develop a feel for how a talk is going, for whether you need to get a little more formal or informal, whether you should inject a little more humor or a little more seriousness. You get to read the audience response, and to relate to what they are feeling.

So, if it is right, that, well, practice makes better, if not perfect, speakers, then there is only one step to take – you have to do it, and then do it again, and again.

One thing to realize when getting going is that the real thing, which is talking to an audience, preferably pretty large, is essential, but not necessarily right off. You can begin with a small audience, or even just doing it without an audience, or with a few friends. A step at a time is fine, why not?