“The Fight of Public Speaking” by Claire Bouchard

The following post was written by Claire Bouchard, Speaking Fellow (BC ’15).

What could pubic speaking and martial arts possibly have in common? One is a sport that focuses on precision and concentration in order to deliver the best and most deadly hit as efficiently as possible, and the other is a mode of communication that focuses on connection with the audience and the skill with which one can deliver their message.

How does the martial arts world connect with the realm of public speaking? They are both performances. As a member of the national United States karate team and a speaking fellow of Barnard College this performance aspect is well known to me. When you’re standing in front of the judges overseas, about to perform a kata (form) in order to represent your country, your adrenaline starts running. All eyes are on you, time slows down, and you feel the pressure to begin. You take a deep breath, relax all of your muscles, and the game begins. You work through your kata; using full moves that you make sure are defined and take your time. Public speaking is not all that different from this set-up.  You enter the spotlight, all eyes turn in your direction, the chatter of the waiting room slowly dies away, and time slows down. You take a deep breath, relax your demeanor and the game begins. You start speaking through your outline, pausing when necessary, using your ability to maneuver between silence and language and deliver your speech.

Both kata and public speaking require the one performing the action to have a strong understanding of themselves and how to present themselves. The performances allow athletes and speakers to present certain aspects of their personality, in kata your ability to focus and in public speaking your ability to connect.

Performances are always a part of our lives; they are an opportunity to present yourself in a fashion that you approve.


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