What it takes to become a better public speaker

Public speaking or oral presentations can certainly be intimidating ("Mastering the fear of public speaking"; Nov 8).

To speak well is like learning to play golf, swim or become a pilot.

First, one must have domain knowledge of the topic.

As the founder president of the SIM Toastmasters Club, I can say with conviction that even with years of experience, one still needs to prepare well and be knowledgeable about the subject.

Second, one must acquire the skills of speech-making through training and hands-on practice. One should have a mentor or coach to provide timely feedback, and be prepared to learn, unlearn and relearn.

Finally, and most importantly, one must be prepared to go through a baptism of fire - speak in front of an audience often and experience the fear to eventually conquer it.

There is no shortcut to becoming a good public speaker. It takes mental resilience, hard work and learning from experience.

One must invest the time, effort and humility to learn from more experienced speakers. One must also have the self-belief that one can master the art and skill.

Over time, one becomes wiser, more astute and a more prolific and eloquent speaker.

Schools and tertiary institutions must encourage all students to speak up more often during class or tutorials and have their views heard.

Tan Teck Huat