Practice Breeds Competence, Competence Breeds Confidence

by Alejandra Figueroa, Speaking Fellow ’16

I wasn’t always as comfortable as I am now with the prospect of public speaking. During my 8thgrade valedictorian speech, I read off my paper the entire time. College student me would have scolded 8th grade me for that ( I would have told myself to use an outline with bullet points).

The point is, no one grows up feeling confident speaking in large crowds. It takes time to develop those skills and that confidence. That’s why I wanted to share this article I recently came across on, which mentions some popular names in the media and the difficulties they had with public speaking.

We may all think of Julia Roberts as a fantastic actress, but little did we know that she had stuttering issues as a child, and received speech therapy. Now she’s speaking at the Guild Awards! Same goes for Warren Buffet, who was so uncomfortable with public speaking when he was younger that he purposefully avoided college classes where he might be required to make presentations. With diligent practice, he overcame this fear. Same goes for Winston Churchill, who was a lisp and would freeze up early in his political career. Again, what got him through it was diligent practice.

What do these individuals have in common? They practiced! That’s the key to mastering public speaking. As the article concludes, practice breeds competence, and competence breeds confidence.

Certain individuals tend to underestimate how much practice can help us in overall improvement of daily interactions. For instance, I practice in trying to reduce the amount of fillers I use in my everyday speech. There are always aspects that we can improve upon.


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