By Brian Smith
You stand at the front of the audience, sweat building on your palms, the audience is quiet as they wait for you to build up the nerves and begin your speech.
On September 24, students experienced this situation during the Poetry Reading event put on by the Pensacola State College English Department. These students went up to read their own poetry in front of a live audience of about 50+ fellow students. Most college students dread public speaking with about 64% of students having some sort of fear towards public speaking. Many of the readers had their own reasons to test themselves in front of the audience though that night.
Some students, such as Sarah Davis, enjoy public speaking and its tensions. This had been her second PSC Poetry Reading she had attended, but she often attends open mics at local events. The event gave Sarah the chance to read her personal poem about her home town and family.
For Sarah public speaking means nothing to her as it is up in front of the audience that she gets the chance to speak freely without worries. She said she will “definitely attend again,” for the next Poetry Reading.
Other readers weren’t so experienced with speaking in front of such a large audience. Aaron Dean attended and read at the event to gain experience in front of a large audience. He originally wasn’t sure if he would be reading that day but after watching others before him he went up to read his own poetry.
After the event he was able to pinpoint his mistakes and what he needed to work on. Aaron believed the event helped him with public speaking and the audience was respectful and non-threatening. He hopes to attend the event again if his schedule lines up again.
Not everyone that attended spoke in front of the audience; some participated in the Poetry Night by just listening and enjoying the poetry. Loren Cooper attended the Poetry Night as a spectator that night. Loren believed that, “Forcing yourself to go out there is the best solution to fear of public speaking.” Experience is the best way to fix the fear of public speaking.
The Poetry Night turned out a great success for those who attended as it gave many the opportunity to work through their fear and become more comfortable with public speaking.