Speaking In Front of an Audience… In the Beginning…

Posted by on May 23, 2007 in Public Speaking, Switzerland | No Comments

20:41 (UTC+08:00), 23 MAY 2007 | CHN BEIJING

We go back all the way back to 1996…

December 1996. I was with — I think — Ms. MacDermott’s French class in school. Assignment numéro un: recite a French poem in front of not just the mic — but a huge aula of like about hundreds of people.

Was I ready? Remember — I was about 14 years back then. A year ago, when I heard that I was going to be singing — mic in hand — in Class Assembly, I freaked out. (In Macintosh parlance back in the day, I referred to having a type 11 system error.) No surprise really: Dad’s command back in the day was — Son, you are here to study…

In the class next door was a Japanese guy — Yosh. He seemed to be quite a different guy than I was. This guy was someone you knew had a lot of energy kicking around. He was a big drama guy, and always got the top role in any play. His power, his determination, and his attempts (most of them successful) at “breaking through” — earned him big spots, time and again. At age 17, he burst into Viva-Swizz music TV. He was the core character in the school’s radio play. He got the mic as the host at ICS Radio Attack, the school’s first (attempt) at a radio station. (It was an attempt, though — the station shut down a few days afterwards… odd, given Yosh’s energy and might on air.)

To this day, Yosh is a guy I look up to. This guy has power to burn. We’re talking about the kind of power that puts solar power to shame — or projects even the size of the Three Gorges Dam.

So December 1996 loomed large and clear for me. Was this a breakthrough effort my end? Mind you, I was a “behavior”-ish kind of guy in class, too. The class couldn’t escape my presence — I was always “there”. Sure, I got sent out a few times (for apparently burning too much energy in class, so to speak), but I was always “there”. Was I going to be “there” in front of the stage?

Ms. Zita, my 2nd grade teacher, was to bear witness to what she called “her favorite [Chinese student]” — and what he was up to in front of the mic. (Yeah, right — back in the day — the only reason why the PRC flag was there at all was because I was at school!)

I think we were number eight or something like that. (It was a “we” — I had a girl who would read along with me.) I started from the first line.

“Il neige!”

That was it. She started from line two. This went on for another round — we did four lines all in all (two lines each). I made a tiny mistake (maybe inaudible) on my last line.

And then we were through.

I tell you all, since that day… some things never change… some things do!

My first instinct: Hey, David, you’re not — “unrecognized” any more. People saw you. People heard you.

I got on the Forchbahn (local tram) and headed for a family friend’s house. I was in a great mood (deep inside). This was a breakthrough, no doubt — at least on a personal level. I had proven that I can be trusted in front of a crowd — to read — and later on, to entertain.

Mom didn’t see me in that kind of a mood — I wanted to hide this. Teens often start their more “revolutionary” years at this age — 14 or thereabouts. (Their “enemy” would, of course, be the family.) I lived two lives — deep inside, I was really excited, but in front of mom, I remained silent, a little cold, and very reserved.

There was, by the way, a bit of reason behind this — I wanted to prove to the family, and to the wider world, that I had “what it takes”. I wanted the “shock effect” to come out really big. And I’m a guy who believes that the magnitude of the “shock effect” can always get bigger. You should never be pleased with the breakthrough you’ve just done. You should gear up and get ready for the next breakthrough.

Only by breaking through — only with “shock effects” — can you improve. Only by improving can you secure yourself that spot. People are never hesitant to dump boring speakers. That’s your cue!

This is content posted by David Feng on a separate site, first published before 29 December 2005, before he started blogging on his own domain. All spelling, grammar, and punctuation remain the exact same way they were when the post was first published. The original post itself does not contain this text in italics.