How To Be Confident At Public Speaking. Being Asian Australian

Standing in front of a bunch of people you don’t know. Feeling like a million pairs of eyes locked on you. Forehead sweaty, palms shaky. Speaking to an audience we’ve never met, or even to a group of friends, can be scary if we’re not too confident at public speaking.

Recently I got interviewed on a radio podcast on SYN 90.7FM and talked about the Asian entertainment scene in Australia (radio is public speaking – talking to an audience you can’t see, but can feel…). Although this podcast was edited, I thought it didn’t go too bad as I did string coherent sentences together. But I was never this eloquent speech-wise. As a kid, I always stuttered when I gave presentations in front of the class.

When we are able to hold our head up high, that's when we have the confidence to speak up and fly | Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement.

When we are able to hold our head up high, that’s when we have the confidence to speak up and fly | Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement.

For some of us Asian Australians, or some of us who are Asian, public speaking is something challenging, something we need to work at.

We need to practice public speaking to be confident at it. Most of the time we don’t do it too often and so it doesn’t come easy to us (unless we’re a teacher, motivational speaker, MC etc.). Unlike in Australia, many schools in Asia aren’t too encouraging of students speaking up in class unless picked upon by the teacher. My secondary school teachers in Singapore threatened to slap “naughty” students who interrupted them teaching – slap students on the palm with a long, super-bendy plastic ruler.

It wasn’t until at university I felt more comfortable speaking to an audience. Back then I decided to take a stab at a media career and signed up to present an Asian pop music community radio show on SYN. At first I kept stumbling over my lines nervously but a year later I got the hang of it, and the repetitive, rehearsed show introductions “Welcome in to Asian Pop Night” were second nature to me.

And so to be more confident at public speaking, we need to slow down, think about what we want to say and say one thing at a time. Know our topic well. Public speaking always looks easy and we’re usually not prepared.

We have to have courage and look at ourselves to find our weakness when it comes to being a confident speaker – to articulate ourselves better and connect with our audience more. Perhaps we have a habit of avoiding eye contact them. Perhaps we have the habit of using complicated words.

For me, sometimes I speak fast, which comes across a bit in the podcast. I probably picked this up when adolescent me lived in Singapore: when Singaporeans speak English, it sounds like rapid gunfire. Many Asian languages are syllable timed, not stressed timed. I grew up hearing my parents speak Cantonese, a blunt-sounding language. I suppose that rubbed off on the way I talk and is probably why I sound Malaysian today.

We need to realise each of us have our own opinions and won’t always agree with one another. Sometimes we’re afraid of public speaking because we’re afraid of being judged. Perhaps when we spoke to a crowd once, someone laughed at us. More than a couple of times I received live-in-studio SYN 90.7FM text messages from listeners that went, “Mabel, speak proper English” and “You sound FOB”. Some Australians don’t appreciate what I, Asian Australians have to say. If we do speak up, is anyone listening to us?

For some of us Asian Australians, maybe we don’t want to stand up and talk about our culture because we’re afraid of offending – offending with our words and physical self. As I’ve written in Why Are We Afraid Of Standing Up Against Racism?, taking about these sensitive topics or our presence might encourage more cultural tension between us.

But do we even have the opportunity to speak up in Australia about our culture, and things not related to our culture? Like gaming, photography, fashion? Asian Australians don’t feature too often in local mainstream media. It can be hard to speak up if we don’t see others like ourselves doing so: a lot of the time we look to others as role models to better ourselves.

Sometimes we’re not afraid of public speaking. Us Asians simply like letting others speak; we’re okay with being silent since we’ve been brought up to listen and let others speak. Yet it’s no secret we want to hear more Asian Australians speak up. We’re caught in between two cultures: we fit the Asian stereotype, but we long to be more “Australian”.

As radio host of Asian Pop Night, I chatted about Asian music and being Asian Australian on-air. During the show I also received song requests from listeners through the live-studio text system – I didn’t have to but I listened, played the requested songs. I still remember my last show after two years of hosting: the text message screen in the studio lit up and a message read, “Will you be doing radio in the future?” Someone likes Asian pop culture.

It’s up to us Asian Australians to speak up no matter what others think. It’s up to us to find, create our own spaces to express our voices if we want to be heard. And not everyone doesn’t want to listen to us.

When we speak confidently, we create communities. As British Youtuber Emma Blackery wrote, “the most powerful thing you own is your voice (…) even when times are hard”. When we share our voice, we share a part of ourselves, our different stories. When we speak up, not only do others learn from us, but we can learn from them too.

To speak confidently to a crowd, we have to believe in ourselves. Believe that the world is at our feet. And just speak up.

Do you like public speaking?

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130 thoughts on “How To Be Confident At Public Speaking. Being Asian Australian

  1. A couple months ago, I win a blog competition and I asked to speak in front of many people to share my story that is submited to join the conpetition. Yea, I was so nervous. 😀


    • Congratulations, Noe, on coming out tops on the blog competition! What a moment for you, you must be very proud of this achievement. I’m sure you weren’t so nervous that you couldn’t speak – because you did share your story to all those people! And I’m sure they wanted to listen and listened to your talk 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mabel, I listened to part of your podcast (you posted it on facebook) and I thought you did an amazing job getting your views across and you answers were very detailed as well as interesting. Great job!

    As a teacher, I always encourage my students to speak-up in class and I have a rule for the ‘too cool’ teenagers – you can either speak it in class or write it for homework. And that is one of the reasons why my classes are so talkative and engaging. I find that because they speak so much, (so they don’t need to write) they become comfortable with their classmates, they know each other better, and they can share their views more easily as well as laugh at their mistakes. Plus, I find that they find it easier to talk about the problems or issues they face in English rather than their native language.

    As for me, I used to be very scared when speaking publicly but when I studied business at university, everything changed. I needed to do several presentations each semester and with each one I did, the more confident I got. However, public speaking in front of my family still makes me nervous. When my cousin got married, I had to speak in front of my entire family and I felt very nervous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Constance, for listening to the podcast. It’s very long. It was a hard interview to do as the questions were sprung on me on the spot and I don’t listen to Asian pop anymore. Had to rely on what I’ve read about the topic in the news.

      Getting a class to be quiet is one thing…and getting them to speak up is another altogether. I’m sure both are challenging. Love it that you encourage your students to speak in class or else get extra homework, clever tactic 😀 I hope they don’t shout over each other like many teenagers like to do.

      Very good point in that speaking up brings us closer together and helps us understand one another. It means more face-to-face time with each other, less hiding behind screens and more time to learn to be sensitive to emotions.

      I bet you did very well with your last presentation at university. The more you practise speaking on different topics, the more you learn about how to compose yourself and engage different audiences. Maybe public speaking in front of family and close ones, we are afraid of saying something that will embarrass them.


      • Actually, the class I am referencing here were amazing. I taught them for 4 years and they ended up being one of my best examples of how learning can be fun and entertaining. They are now in their third year of university and the ‘class comedian’ will graduate as a police officer next year while a few of them chose English as their major. Every summer they have a reunion which I attend.

        I think public speaking is sometimes an ‘aquired’ skill, meaning the more you do it and do it well, the confident you become. I also find that having knowledge about the topic helps as well. I have done many workshops on class-control and class motivation in Taiwan and I felt quite confident during those presentations because I knew what I was talking about and I could give examples and draw on my own classroom experiences. However, ask me to talk about computers, for example, and that would be another story.


        • Hahaha! The class comedian as a police officer. Good on him. I’m sure he will find all that speaking out in school very useful – he will certainly need it when putting people in line with the law 😀

          I agree with you. Public speaking is a skill that is learned over time. We need to learn how to project our voice, make eye contact, how to deliver our talk in an oraganised manner…so much to learn, and learning it all one by one is a wise way to go. Interesting, class motivation – I’ve always wondered what that was and thought it’s a positive class where we learn to see our strengths and how to build on them.

          I agreed to do this podcast interview because Asian entertainment was something I knew a bit of. If it was about cars, I would have declined. It’s hard to get excited about public speaking if we’re given an obscure topic – where do we start, and most likely we’ll end up regurgitating someone else’s ideas.


          • Mabel,
            I am so glad that my comment went through. I knew something funny happened when I hit the ‘post comment’ button. And sorry for the late reply – I have been working on my book a lot this week as I seem to have gotten into a writing groove lately – don’t you just love when the words and sentences just flow and cement together like magic!

            It is funny you should mention eye-contact because that is one of the things everyone pointed out to me at the wedding when I spoke. I guess that is part of being a teacher as well as I constantly have to make eye-contact, and of course, keep an eye on a select few naughty ones! 🙂

            Hope your weekend is off to an amazing start!!


            • That is great you’re working on your book. Go for it, write to your heart’s content when you’ve got momentum going. I love it when the words come so naturally – it feels like magic and you feel like you’re on top of the world.

              I suppose looking happy, smiling, and non-frustrated goes hand-in-hand with eye contact when you’re speaking to an audience. But as a teacher I’m sure you’re used to this. The more friendly we look, the more approachable we seem and perhaps others are more likely to listen to us.

              My weekend was great. Quiet. Just the way I like it. Hope you had a good weekend, and wishing you a good week!


  3. Mabel congrats on the podcast. You are becoming famous I think! I am one of those odd ducks who loves public speaking. I do a fair amount of presenting, workshops and at one point had a motivational speaking business. I do believe that the more one does of it the easier it gets.


  4. Public speaking is consistently listed as one of the top human fears. While some people have a knack for it, Asians or otherwise, I think most people naturally aren’t used to having so many eyes on them and it takes getting used to. If not outright training.

    Some cultures are more extroverted, that is true. In any case, being good at expressing yourself in public and in the media is a useful skill indeed. Keep up the good work, congratulations!


    • Good point. When someone’s looking at you, you tend to think why they’re looking at you and what are they thinking. We feel like someone’s intruding on our personal space in a sense and we feel very much vulnerable.

      Thank you for the well wishes. I do think I am better at expressing myself in written form. That’s the introvert in me speaking.


  5. You have some great tips here! 🙂 I don’t like public speaking, but it is only because I am more of a one on one person….or a very small group of people. Thank you so much for sharing.


    • Thank you for the kind words, Linda. And for stopping.

      Me too. I’m more of a one-on-one person. Hanging out with ten or more people usually makes me uncomfortable. I suppose with one-to-many, we get to hear different opinions. With one-on-one, we get to have more deep and meaningful conversations a lot of the time 🙂


  6. The older I’ve gotten the more I enjoy being in front of a crowd. There are a few activities for my job that I MC….I really enjoy myself. I tend to be pretty goofy….so it is easy for me to play around. I love to make people laugh!
    I enjoy reading what you have to say…I would enjoy hearing it too!


    • Ah, Tree, you like being the centre of attention 😀 Sounds like you know how to pull in a crowd and you don’t fear eyes on you! Goofy is good, great sense of humour and that can help loosen up the crowd. I hope you draw belly laughs from the crowd, I don’t doubt it.

      Thanks, Tree. I think I express my thoughts much better in writing, you know it!


  7. Congratulations on the podcast
    I was never good in speaking in public or even asking simple questions until my last year of high school and it improved when I started my university life. These days I certainly still get very nervous and have to calm myself down in order to say coherent sentences but it is so much better than in my youth when I simply couldn’t say a thing.


    • Thanks, Crazy. Sounds like you have come a long way with public speaking. Maybe in your new job you will get the chance to build on this skill too. I really feel uncomfortable when after speaking for sometime and ask the crowd a question and no one answers. Awkward silence.

      “when I simply couldn’t say a thing” – that describes me very well in my youth too. Lost for words, paralysed with fear in front of the class. Sometimes we express ourselves better in other ways.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I can understand the quote by Emma as I’m currently living in a country where my true voice can’t be heard by authorities otherwise I can be arrested. No voice is no freedom. If someone dares to state opposition to the military who rules ours, be aware of your freedom.

    The quote is true to my heart.


    • That is so sad to hear the situation in Thailand is still that way. Hopefully one day things will be better and everyone there can speak without fear. It’s a similar situation in Malaysia – you don’t want to be offending a certain race for political reasons.

      I hope I didn’t offend you with the quote. Some of us really have no voice in the darkest of times. We can only repeat that voice in our heads to have hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. That’s a challenging experience I must say. Not so many people can do it fluently at the first time so I appreciate 6 bold lines in your blog. You have the objective perspective when seeing our differences as human nature. Hopefully, there will be more people who would like to listen and exchange more than judge and repel other’s efforts 🙂 .


    • You are right. It’s hard to get our thoughts, words out of our mouth and composure when we start public speaking. There’s so many things to get on-point. But it comes with practise and eventually we will be able to juggle it all like an impressive juggling act.

      Thanks, Khan 🙂 “our differences as human nature” – you describe us perfectly. Love your phrase.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Finding Nemo in paper mache | Non perfect writing

    • You and commentor Sue are the only ones who like public speaking. Very brave of the two of you 😀

      Bit of a celebrity you are. Sounds like you’re very comfortable in the spotlight. You never know, one day you might grace our TV screens again.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Is there even anyone who is not afraid of public speaking (besides Gary Lum above ;-)? ) I still am, though I regularly teach classes and present at conferences. Congrats on your successful radio programme, way to go!


    • Apart from Gary Lum, Sue and Tree are also fans of public speaking. They are so not afraid of it. Maybe they were born to do it.

      Sounds like you’ve got the hang of public speaking with teaching. I suppose you have to deal with plucky students…maybe they have asked a cheeky question or two 😉


  12. Ohhh I must say I dont like to speak in public… but I have to do it soooo many times that I got used to it. However, I always got nervous… what I do is I make sure to fully understand what am about to say, otherwise I will feel insecure and wont be prepared if there is a question. I used to have a huge problem with public speaking, but during my master degree I had no choice but to deal with it hahaha 😀 wowww you on an interview on a radio, how cool is that! Im sure you did very well!! 😉


    • Hahaha! You’ve always striked me as a chatty and outgoing person, so I thought you love public speaking. That is so true. When we don’t know what to say, the more we will stand in front of the crowd in silence. Now that is awkward 😀

      I don’t mind it when the audience asks a question. Usually that gets me thinking about things I’ve never thought about and it might add more to my speech!

      Ooo. Masters degree. I see we have a lot in common 😉 I am sure one day on radio about your blog and travel book, only a matter of time!

      Liked by 1 person

      • hahahaha yeah I love to talk, but at first Im shy…then things just flow naturally. Its the same when I have to speak in public, the beginning is always awkward, but then I get comfortable 😀

        Ohhh Mabel, I love your optimism… I also hope to hear about your book soon (no pressure) 😀


        • I think at the beginning of public speaking is awkward because we don’t know our audience. We don’t know if they are attentive or how they will react to us. It’s like bumping into a stranger. After exchanging a bit of words, then we make more trust with each other.

          Maybe your traveling has helped you speak up. Because when you travel, you are always meeting new people 🙂

          Book? Ah…it’s coming along VERY slow but thank you for reminding me. I feel these few months have given me more stories to put in the book. I know you got my back on this one 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • Exactly, that is a great point… not knowing our audience really does make us a bit nervous and awkward at the beginning. And now that you mentioned that my traveling helped me on that, it really does make sense, I’ve never thought about it before! Great observation 😉

            Ohhhh Im happy you have new ideas for your blog… I also have a few for mine 😀 good luck to us!!


  13. Awesome post! I agree that representation is really important! People should see (or hear!) different kinds of people hosting regular showsーI remember I was a kid and I was watching a short program presentation (they have them between shows on state channels in Sweden) and I remember listening to this woman and thinking “Oh, hey, neat. They’ve got someone who’s emigrated doing this bit!” …..I commented to my dad and he looked at me and said “No, that’s just (insert name here) dialect.”
    ….The moral of the story is, representation is important, even if it’s just regional, hahaha! XD
    But seriously! I think it’s awesome you did that radio showーit seems like it was fun and a great experience. So, to repeat that listener’s question: Will you be doing radio (or TV?) regularly in the future too? 🙂


    • Representation. I’m so glad you brought this word up. We can learn about different cultures and more importantly learn about acceptance when we see and hear different people on TV, radio, anywhere really.

      That’s a very good memory you have. Seems like you were always fascinated with different people 😀 Were there a lot of shows like that in Sweden? Maybe the diversity is confined to it being regional there, not global…interesting.

      Will I be doing radio or TV soon? I don’t know. A few years ago I realised that my media career was going no where. But every time I look back, I realised I miss it a lot. So…never say never 🙂


      • Yes, I think representation not only helps people who see people like themselves, but it helps others who maybe aren’t exposed to a multicultural environment too.

        Haha, I only remember weird and random things, I think! Hmm, well this particular program is special, but yeah I guess there are. They’ve gotten better about representation not just regionally but internationally in later years too. ^^

        Hehe, well I hope you keep doing, or find something you really enjoy and also feel you’re getting somewhere with it. 😀


        • So true. Different representation on screen or in the media can open our eyes to a whole new culture and world. I think representation has the ability to shock and then educate – if we’re open-minded.

          When I was growing up in Australia, I remember seeing a lot of Western faces on TV, such as on Sesame Street and Aussie TV program Play School. I seriously thought that Asians had no place in the media until I saw many of them speaking up at the radio station where I volunteered.

          To be honest, I’m enjoying my current job much more than my last (earlier this year). Positive vibes from the day job translates into more happy writing vibes later at home 😀

          Liked by 1 person

    • I have to agree with you. If we can’t believe what we are talking about, I suppose it will show in our composure and face. Conviction, definitely. I we don’t believe in our words, then I suppose a part of us is lying to ourselves.

      I guess when we’re talking about sensitive topics like racism and cultural identities, it’s important to be impartial about it and remember not to let our feelings sway our words too far to one side.


  14. I’ve never been very confident when it comes to public speaking. But whenever I’ve done it before, what’s always helped is lots of practice.

    I usually script my speeches, but I’ve been told that I sound far more natural when I just write bullet-point notes instead. And I strangely enough, the couple times I’ve shared using bullet-points, I’ve usually felt way better about my speaker than the times when I’d written everything out.

    Another thing that improves public speaking is reading. And not just any sort of reading, like online articles or blogs, but actually reading BOOKS. Haha. I firmly believe that your output is a product of your input – so the more you feed yourself with things you know little about, the greater your capacity to share things with others.

    Thanks for sharing the interview with us. Your Canto/Australian accent is awesome. 😀


    • For some reason, I always thought you were a good public speaker. You’re always so eloquent and detailed in your comments. Then again, some of us are better at expressing ourselves in written form…

      I’ve always heard that bullet points is the way to go. Though I do think it doesn’t hurt to make a detailed bulleted list as sometimes some eager audience members might ask for a copy of your speech when you’re done yapping away 😀

      “feed yourself with things” – I love that phrase. The more we know, most likely we’ll be more prepared to tackle any random questions the audience throws our way. I guess in that sense, it’s important to have a speech that talks about both sides of the arguments or shares different theories.

      Canto/Australian accent – that’s the first I’ve heard anyone describe my accent this way 😀


  15. Public speaking is a scary thing but fear can be overcome with lots of practice practice practice until what one has to say becomes a natural thing. It also helps to know one’s subject well. One has to remain true to self and consider the audience not just spectators but individuals the speaker is having a conversation with. Oh well, that’s what I noticed about the effective public speakers. There was a time when I interacted with more people than just my family and immediate circle of friends. 🙂


    • “…having a conversation with.” That’s definitely a very important thing – making our speech sound like a conversation. If not, then we’ll sound wooden. I’ve heard practising speaking in front of a mirror helps us to gain more confident. I don’t know about this, as I can’t stand looking at myself… 🙂

      Being true to ourself is important too. If we don’t agree with what we’re saying to our audience, in a sense we’re kidding ourselves.

      Sounds like you are one confident chick, Imelda. I can imagine you giving a speech or reading your poetry to a roomful of strangers and getting a standing ovation 🙂


  16. I think I’m more comfortable with public speaking now than what I was in the past. When I was in school I blushed every time I had to speak in front of the class! It got better in high school and university.
    As you said, the key is being confident and prepare well. If you have a deep knowledge about what you are talking, and you enjoy the topic, you can really transmit your enthusiasm to your audience!


    • Blushed every time you spoke in front of the class? I bet your cheeks turned red and you looked like a tomato ^^’ This has happened to me many times whenever I had to talk to a group of people – accompanied by sweaty palms.

      Enjoying the topic. Exactly. The more we’re passionate about a topic, what we want to say should come easier to us. You might be able to throw in a joke or two then 🙂


    • Nervous is better than terrified and paralysed. I’m sure you’ve learnt the ropes of public speaking, that takes time.

      I suppose as we grow older we learn what we’re passionate about and so are able to tailor our talks to weave in our interests.

      If we do have a good knowledge about our topic, we should be able to anticipate questions the audience might ask.


  17. I’m definitely an introvert. I don’t like to be loud, and don’t like to speak in front of people. I used to go to Toastmasters but have been busy with other things the last couple of years — now you are the inspiration for me to start back!


    • I”m an introvert too, Sandy. Maybe that’s why we both don’t like speaking in front of others. But if we’re introverted, we can only learn so much from ourselves and our small world.

      Ah, yes. Toastmasters. One of my friends has been encouraging me to give it a go. Maybe I should really give it a go and step up from speaking to my stuffed animals in my bedroom. My stuffed animals are very supportive 🙂


  18. congratulations on the podcast, Mabel 🙂 it’s a great achievement, it is not easy to speak in front of any audience, even if it is invisible, like on the radio 🙂 I used to work at the national radio for three years some time ago, I know how stressful it can be 🙂 but it always pays off to leave one’s comfort one… rock on, girl!! 🙂


    • Thanks, Alexandra. Speaking on radio is harder than anyone thinks, especially if it’s live radio – no room for stumbling over your words.

      Interesting, you worked in radio before 🙂 It’s stressful in that there’s very strict deadlines to turn in your work and there’s a certain “journalistic style” of writing that you need to produce. But you are so right: we learn so much when things don’t go our way 🙂


  19. Congratulation, Mabel! What an achievement, so happy for you. 🙂 You ROCK!!

    I agree everything you said about public speaking. This really is a cool topic, to say the least! One does need practice and confidence to speak in front of people. The more knowledge/expertise and passion that we have in the subject area, the more confidence we may be able to build upon.
    I also have learned that public speaking is all about speaking what you know or believe, it also is about what people want to hear and how to get people to listen. Good speakers do spend tremendous time and effort to achieve that; such as when to pause, when to slow down, when to throw a joke, how to not take yourself seriously, etc…. I guess once you gain the audience, it’s easier to get them to listen to your message/speech to them. Apologize for another lengthy comment.

    I love the beautiful photos you have been taken, Mabel. They go perfectly with your topics! Thank you so much for sharing your achievement with us 🙂


    • I have to agree with you on being passionate about what we talk about. If we’re passionate about a topic, most likely the ideas we have about the topic are at our fingertips. It wasn’t until my postgraduate degree that I started giving presentations about multiculturalism. One time I decided to talk about my work in community radio for a seminar presentation and I was surprised I was able to talk without cue cards which the lecturer did not allow. In other words, if we’re proud of what we do, it’s easier to talk about it – because that’s who we are.

      “how to not take yourself seriously” Bingo. We all make mistakes. So if we stumble over our words public speaking, we should laugh and move on 🙂

      No need to apologise for the long comment, Amy. I really appreciate it. Thank you for the nice words on my photos. I really wonder if people pay attention to them. I thought of you and your bird photos while editing this bird photo. Not as sharp as yours but still clear 🙂


      • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and wonderful public speaking experience. You posts (articles) always trigger to think. 🙂
        You take great photos. I like this one especially. The angle is perfect, the perspective is beautiful, the tranquility of scene translates you thought about the topic, and the bird with the wings shows the courage. Brilliant shot! I think your readers are not responding to your photos is because your articles are even more interesting.


        • Public speaking and writing have their similarities in that they are forms of expression. Both of them are useful skills to have.

          You are too kind, Amy. I’m glad you like my posts. And that is the first time anyone has given me feedback on a photo like that, thank you 😀 With this one I tried some effects to make it look like the bird was trying to fly.

          Looking forward to more photos from you so I can learn from them 🙂


  20. I didn’t have confidence for public speaking until late 30’s into my career. During university, I still was stiff speaking to groups.

    But later I had no choice: I had a job which required that I teach groups of employees for an hr. each time regularily, several times per month. It was to teach them real skills of research for their jobs, so I had to know my content, deal with unpredictable, but teachable moments with adults, many professionals (lawyers, engineers, managers, etc.). I had to set the pace for the rest of my staff because I expected them to teach also.

    So out of survival, I became stronger, more confident. Also in the area of race relations, there is point you must speak out, no matter what others think: otherwise no one will know., no one will learn much of anything and I wouldn’t be able to substantiate my points with examples.

    So survival can be a healthy teacher to speak out, present, articulate complicated concepts in a logical, persuasive manner.

    Best of luck. It’s not all Asians by the way. I’ve worked with some activists in race relations and they are confident public speakers from their early twenties onward. They are community leaders in Metro Toronto now.


    • It’s so true. When we’re grown up and working, we have to speak up for survival. To climb the career ladder, you have to put yourself out there, speak up at meeting and impress with your presentation. It’s also pretty much the only way for us as employees to get our point across, if not, our arguments on the table.

      That is great to hear you’ve become more accustomed to public speaking through your work. I guess in your case you had an audience willing to listen – they had to as they had to learn research skills. Delivering a class or presentation is never easy especially if it’s a topic your audience is relatively unfamiliar with. For all you know they will find you very boring, your style of presenting boring.

      I’ve encountered many Asians who’ve lived in Australia all their lives who are very outspoken and opinionated. Where we have been brought up certainly affects our views on public speaking.


  21. We suck at public speaking! We don’t like it one bit. But we surprised ourselves when we made daily videos on our Camino at how less critical we became, the more we became comfortable within ourselves.

    Great piece of writing once again 🙂


    • I always thought you two cheeky monkeys would be good at public speaking since the two of you come across as very outspoken in this blog world. Then again, sometimes we express ourselves better in other forms. Maybe one day we will see those Camino videos 🙂

      Awww. You Monkeys like my writing!


  22. Congrats Mabel!! That’s huge achievement, you are a famous blogger and writer 🙂
    It is true that most Asian education did not prepare the students to speak in public. It’s kinda sad…I hope they changed now 🙂
    I understand completely how it feels at the beginning of public speaking 🙂 On my previous job, I did a lot of presentations and often being invited to deliver training and workshop by university and non profit organisations, back then I was so nervous but after couple times, I got used to it and it came naturally. Nowadays, my works are mostly behind computer screen, I guess it will take me lots of effort to get used to talk in front of public again 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right. Asian education rarely promotes public speaking, unless you count debates. But debating clubs at school tend to be very exclusive – if you are good at English or the main language of instruction at that school, then only you will be given a chance to be part of the club. I don’t know if this is (was) the case in Indonesia, but it sounds like it.

      I am sure if you are asked to speak in public or deliver presentations again you will be a star – the skills are just at the back of your mind 😀

      By the way, thank you for your nice words, Indah. Nah, I’m not famous. Probably will never be. I’m just another girl with another blog 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • During my studying period in Indonesia, we did not even have debate clubs 😦 but again I was raised during Soeharto dictatorship. Now it is completely changed though.
        About being famous – who knows ;)..are you still working on your book?


        • That is sad to hear there weren’t debating clubs in your school days. But you’ve been very proactive to learn public speaking at work, and it goes to show that public speaking can be learnt on our own 🙂

          Haha, Allane from Packing My Suitcase asked me how my book was going a few days ago! It’s been slow because work has been very busy and I have no inspiration. But I’m getting there. Thank you for being so kind and asking 😉


  23. Public speaking has always been complicated for me. I am well prepared with what I am planning to say but once it comes to actually giving a presentation or speech I sometimes falter and stutter my words. This is especially true after high school and college, when professors will not allow you to look at cards or notes when speaking in front of a class. At least mine didn’t.


    • It’s interesting you mention that you get nervous even though you’ve practised your speech heaps and know the points. It happens to me all the time too. Maybe something throws us when we’re talking – we’re not used to the audience, we missed talking about a point.

      For some of us, public speaking is a stressful situation in some ways. I’m naturally not comfortable talking to strangers so public speaking always makes me anxious.

      At university my lecturers didn’t allow us to use cue cards either. If we did, they deducted a fair bit of points from our graded presentations.


  24. This quote from Jerry Seinfeld says it best:

    “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

    I think this is a trans-cultural phenomenon. It’s up to the individual how you respond to it.


    • That is a bit of a quote by Jerry Seinfeld. Tongue in cheek, perhaps. I remember in my postgrad university days I felt quite alive giving presentations to my class while a tad nervous – I was speaking about multiculturalism, what I knew and believed in.


  25. I’ve done a great deal of public speaking in my day, and I LOVED it. Loved the contact with a live audience, sending out energy, receiving it back, shaping a relationship — loved it.
    But when it came to the occasional radio publicity broadcast — ugh! Unlike you, I felt tongue tied. Same with television — a little red light, a black metal microphone — they don’t do it for me. Give me people, real live people, and like an old racehorse — I’m off and running.


    • Sounds like you love to spread the love ❤ I love how you say we can receive positive energy and inspiration from an audience. This is so true – when we share we learn from each other and encourage other. Isn't that a great feeling.

      I suppose with radio sometimes you do know that there are on-air rules you have to follow (like swearing is a big no-no). With public speaking, depending on the audience, you can get away with it 🙂


  26. What? You’ve received messages telling you to speak proper English? I can’t believe it. I wonder what kind of English they speak to say that then, uugghhhh!
    Ok I’m weird, I’m usually shy to speak up in a small group of people (even friends!) but until now I have no problems in giving a speech to a roomful of people. Hang on, I’ve had to speak on the radio before and I HATED that. I think it’s probably because I couldn’t see my public, or I don’t know what but I hope I’ll never have to do that again!


    • Yeah, I get people all the time telling me to speak English, or if not slow down because they don’t understand my accent. It’s quite silly thinking since we all speak differently -_-

      Maybe you are shy with a small group because most of the time you’re obliged to be more intimate with them. You will know they might be more attentive, unlike some in a big group who can pretend to be bored and you don’t notice and you don’t care.

      Maybe you just weren’t used to radio. On radio you know you have to follow a set of on-air rules like no swearing, maybe that’s it. Maybe give it a few more tries and you’ll love it 🙂


  27. It was great to hear your voice, and you did a wonderful job… It is always nice to see/hear a little more about a blogger friend 🙂 Yes, public speaking is always a challenge and I hate it, but it does feel so good when it is over! Sometimes if I practice my speech too much, I end up screwing it up, so I now just think “know the material, follow my outline and hope for the best” ~ and then it goes well. Wonderful post!


    • Thanks, Randy, for listening to the podcast. Usually I have a voice like a 12-year-old but somehow that day was an exception 🙂

      I think that is a great approach to public speaking – know the material back to front, have a few messages to get through and just wing it. I’ve found it to be easier if it’s a topic I’m passionate about…then again, that’s when you really want your audience to take you seriously and hope they don’t laugh at you. Hope all is well 🙂


  28. I would say that the best way to minimise stage fright is to speak about something which we are truly passionate about. The words and thoughts then flow out unharnessed and to the listener, the passion and the energy becomes infectious.



    • Good suggestion. When we talk about something we love and know very well, we are ourselves. We’re not pretending to like the topic or putting on a positive spin on a topic we don’t agree with.

      “…the energy becomes infectious”. Well said, Shakti. I couldn’t have said it better myself.Thank you for reading and stopping by.


  29. Wow… another topic I could easily relate to …

    Let me tell you one thing, I had a very scary and funny start in public speaking during my school days, which my brother still uses to make fun of me 🙂

    The first time I could speak a few words facing the school assembly without fumbling was after receiving the medals for the best out going student after my 10th class 🙂

    Throughout my college days, I struggled and somehow just managed my final year seminar during engineering.

    After around ten years in IT industry and interacting with numerous people, I am confident of talking in a meeting in close doors but never got a chance to test my public speaking ability yet…

    I have closely followed the points you have mentioned here and I’ll try to use them when I get an opportunity to speak in public…

    Thank you so much for bringing up this topic, Mabel 🙂

    Yea, I heard the podcast and you look so confident and fluent …. 🙂


    • That. Is. One hilarious story! Thanks so much for sharing, Sreejith. The speech words just came naturally to you when you won those medals. Maybe you are destined to win even bigger prizes, like the Noble Peace prize – and then I am sure you will be making an amazing speech that will come naturally 🙂

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought working in the IT industry requires a lot of public speaking? For example, like presentations at IT conferences on what you’ve achieved? Maybe it’s only for selected people in the industry or certain parts of the industry.

      Thank you for the nice words on the podcast. It’s all edited, trust me…I’ve worked in radio and that’s how things roll. Good luck with public speaking, Sreejith. I’m sure you’ll do okay as you have lots of practice in meetings over the years.

      By the way, you still win the award for most number of smileys in a comment without being cheesy 🙂


      • I really hope so, Mabel, and inf act I used to visualise many times, standing in front of a huge audience and delivering a grand speech 🙂

        As my tag lines says, it’s the possibility of dreams comes true, that makes life interesting, right?

        Yea, as you said, we need to take presentations and seminars, but, in my case the audience was always of smaller size.

        Any ways, it’s a work in progress and hope to master this craft 🙂


  30. I’d have to say I was much more confident before than I am now..maybe a tad bit over confident but I’ve lost some of my confidence over the years, Don’t know why..probably cause of lack of active participation in stuff, whatever the reason I do feel I could and should be much more confident than I am now.

    That is such an awesome achievement Mabel to speak for a radio, I know people can be judgmental and there will always be people who won’t agree with your opinion and might be a bit rude but that is what it is about at the end of the day, to hold your head high and be proud of yourself. I’m so So happy for you ❤

    P.S that photograph you shared is spectacular !! Love the whole effect of me, the colors and the melancholic background but with a positive message as of the bird id about to fly. Beautiful image to look at it 🙂

    Hope you had a glorious thanksgiving full of love and happiness ❤


    • Losing confidence over the years. I can totally relate to that, Zee. I felt nervous when interviewed during the radio podcast, sort of afraid that I will say something wrong or stutter on-air. A couple of years ago when I was still doing radio, I felt very confident on-air. So I think you are right about losing confidence over the years.

      From your posts and energetic comments, you seem like a person full of energy and not afraid to speak to others. And yes, people can be judgemental – but you already know how to believe in your self and take what others say with a pinch of salt 🙂

      Thank you for your nice words on my photo. It’s not often people say something good about them 😀 ❤


      • Whaaatt? Who are those people, give me names (Don’t worry no one would find the dead bodies) ! lol No seriously though, I love the photographs you incorporate in your post every week. Please don’t believe those people 😉

        Oh and I may sound energetic and a person who is confident but I’m not really like that anymore. I was but I’ve lost a lot in this past year. Aah well, gotta work with whatever I have so it’s fine I guess. 🙂


        • Thank you for your encouraging words! No one has insulted my photos yet, don’t worry 😀 If you need to vent any anger you can punch my stuffed monkeys. They are also there if you want to practice a speech.

          Sorry to hear that you lost a lot this year. I am sure you will find courage and confidence again, and one day you will be giving the best speech of your life. Yes, just got to work hard. And believe 🙂


  31. I don’t think it comes naturally for many but if conquered can lead to many adventures. I got ill speaking in front of classmates I never thought Id be able to conquer that fear but eventually I did and have spoken in front of large groups in several countries – what an honor.
    Proud of you Mabel – I know you will continue to be a creative spokeswoman.


    • Oh yes. If we conquer our fear of public speaking we may come to love it and never shut up 😉 So good to hear you’ve conquered your fear and have given many speeches. I’m sure you also managed to get the attention of every single one of those audience members.

      Thank you, Leslie. “creative spokeswoman”. I don’t know. We’ll see. I’ll have to start practising.


  32. Before I was used to it: we had a band and held concerts, plus I had a show on the student radio, but that’s many years ago and now I’m no longer confident when it comes to public speaking.
    A few months ago I was at this open mic/jam session event and I was considering to play a couple of my songs, but I felt nervous just thinking about it.

    I’m at work now and I can’t listen to your podcast, but I’ll see if I get the chance when I’m at home.


    • Wow, sounds like you were in the limelight a little bit back in the day, and you didn’t fear it one bit. Maybe you felt nervous at the recent open mic because you felt you had to be as good as you were back in the day. And performing our art or work is always a personal thing; we don’t want to get it wrong and embarrass ourselves.

      Thank you, Cardinal. I’m flattered that you want to listen to the podcast. Thanks for supporting.


  33. I was always so chuffed when ever somebody asked me to do a speech, presentation or even a quiz in front of other people, Mabel. But, when the time came to stand up and do that speech, presentation or quiz, I would start to shake, sweat and, like you, start to speak really fast and rush things.

    The way I got around all of this was to pretend I was sat in a TV studio being interviewed by a news presenter and just talk as if it was the presenter and me having the conversation. I’d forget about all those faces out there watching and listening to me, and it seemed to work. I’ve no idea where the idea came from but I would recommend anybody who is nervous of standing up and speaking in front of other people to just think they are talking privately to one other person when doing the speech. It certainly helped me to relax and to slow down.

    I would have loved to have heard your radio presentation. I was a DJ once in a night club and I enjoyed that so much. Playing music and watching everybody dance to it was so satisfying.


    • “chuffed”. Now that is a word that I absolutely love. I am like you, feeling shaky when the time comes to speak. Maybe it is that moment we realise public speaking is real and we can’t really control some aspects of it (such as getting heckled…)

      That is a good idea to calm the nerves public speaking, visualising that you are somewhere else where you feel safe and the words come easy to you. You could even imagine you are talking with your best friend or talking to some stuffed animals in your bedroom.

      You can access the podcast I did in the link in at the begining of the post. Oh wow, you were a DJ in a night club. That is so cool. I bet you attracted quite a crowd 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad you like my word ‘chuffed’, Mabel. It’s a word I use very often instead of saying ‘delighted’.

        I saw the link and I will have a listen but I would have loved to have heard the show live and to have been able to have texted you and been part of the show. I wonder if a television interview will follow next? 🙂 Remember, if it does, to follow my advise if you feel nervous.

        I may write about my DJ years in a future post as it has bought back some wonderful memories now that I have mentioned it to you.


        • “chuffed”. It’s used quite a bit here in Australia, just haven’t heard it in a while. Oh no, I am very camera shy so I don’t think a TV interview is on the cards for me soon. But thank you for being so encouraging.

          Oh yes. Please entertain the idea of writing about your DJ years. I don’t think many of us know what that entails 🙂


  34. How interesting: (well) knowing you’re in Australia, I still projected American Eng on you in my imagination. (Bc I’m not used to the Aussie accent and bc we tend to project our own experiences to others.) It threw me off to hear you sounding bona fide Australian LOL. I’m so glad you got to go live as an interviewee on radio, Mabel. Very cool. =) I’d never pegged the syllables vs whole-word distinction between Asians and Westerners, though as a college linguistics major I’d noticed differences in intonation. I’ll be thinking about that. And it’s funny you ask how we like public speaking. I actually deleted this from the Real Reasons I Blog (bc I had enough points): Efficiency. I can kill two birds with one stone, public speaking and writing. Meaning, there is an aspect to blogging that is like pblc spkg where we address the public. Though of course I get that it’s usually silent. And yes, I do enjoy public speaking. Husband’s wished I could do health and nutrition seminars. Fun post!



    • The Aussie accent is a bit of a weird one. To someone who hasn’t met many Australians before, the Aussie accent might sound a bit sharp to the ears. Lol D, me sounding like a bonafide Australian? Wait until you meet an Australian from the country and listen to their broad accent – you probably wouldn’t understand much…even I can’t ^^’

      “an aspect to blogging that is like pblc spkg where we address the public.” Spot on. Writing never comes easy to many of us. With writing it’s best we keep our words short and simple because I suppose, well, to put it a bit harshly, not everyone like reading. Appreciate your support, D.


  35. Good article. About this statement – We need to practice public speaking to be confident at it. I want to strongly support it, because I have my own experience with the fear of public speaking. I couldn’t pull a word out of my mouth in public before I started to force myself – it was so hard that I hardly stopped myself from crying. But with every try it was becoming less and less scary. Now I present my speeches like it’s easy peasy. I also want to suggest you two things that can help you. First is the Comfort Zone Challenges –, and the article about presenting a speech – You should try both. Good luck!


    • Thanks, Jimbo. Nice to hear that you’ve come out the confident end of public speaking after giving it a go again and again. The more you do something, not only does it get less scary to start it but you find that it becomes predictable after a while. You’ll also realise that the audience you’re talking to aren’t there to eat you up. Thanks for sharing those links. They have great tips on getting better at speaking in public. Good luck with your future speeches and presentations.


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