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Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

More than 100 students packed into Aldrich 108 in anticipation of learning something very different yet relevant to our everyday HBS life: confidence in public speaking. “Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking” is a bi-annual event sponsored by the HBS Public Speaking and Negotiation Club targeted at helping students to ease their anxieties of speaking in front of large audiences – one of the greatest fears students may face on a daily basis in our classrooms.

Professor Dale DeLetis, the sole speech instructor on HBS campus and a repeat honored guest of the Club, impressed the student body with his dynamic speaking style and wealth of professional knowledge. With no formal introduction, Dale jump-started the event and immediately captured the crowd’s attention by citing the most common fear among all HBS students: the fear of “sounding stupid” when speaking up in class.

Poised and witty, Dale engaged the audience for the next hour revealing his secrets to lowering stress levels when speaking in public. He first introduced the “fight or flight” syndrome that explained the many uncontrollable physiological actions that might be experienced by HBS students when they speak in public. He then emphasized the benefits of excellent preparation and practicing out loud and introduced the secret of abdominal breathing, demonstrating that nervousness, while unavoidable, could be eliminated with more controlled and deeper breathing. Just when the crowd thought they had heard it all, Dale brought them an interesting twist – eating more bananas to increase potassium intake.

“It’s always exciting to see so many HBS students show up at the Public Speaking & Negotiation Club’s events, because it shows that students are serious about learning to speak with confidence and impact,” says Joanne Leung, Co-President of the Club. “HBS prides itself on producing tomorrow’s leaders, and I believe our Club is doing our part to help in this regard; after all, a good leader must first be a good verbal communicator.”

To help students who desire more focused and personal training to improve their public speaking skills, Dale also offers private coaching lessons which students have found to be very useful in the past.

This event is one of major events sponsored by the Public Speaking Club and Negotiation Club in the 2007 – 2008 academic year. The Club had previously co-sponsored with the Armed Forces Alumni Association (AAFA) of HBS to bring Ed Ruggero, a military historian and public speaking dynamo, to speak about the relevance of military leadership in the corporate world using his high-impact story-telling ability. The Club will continue to bring in high-caliber speakers, events, and training sessions to the HBS community in the areas of speech and leadership development.

October 29, 2007
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