How I Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking: Danish Dhamani (Transcript)

Full Transcript of Orai’s CEO Danish Dhamani’s TEDx Talk: How I Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking @ TEDxKids@SMU conference. To learn more about the speaker, read the bio here.

 

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Danish Dhamani – Co-founder at OraiApp.com

My name is Danish and my full-time job is to count people’s ums arms and ahs and like.

It all started at my first day of school, after my family moved from Pakistan to Tanzania. I was busy sketching my dream cars in my notebook and all of a sudden, I hear a voice in my direction: the teacher.

“Danish, can you please rise up and introduce yourself?”

She had put me on the spot. I was in this foreign land, 30 pairs of eyes staring at me.

How would you feel when a teacher puts you on the spot in this kind of situation? My mind went blank. My heart started racing.

I kept quiet. I started hearing giggles in the classroom. And then tears ran down my cheek. That was the first time I felt the fear of speaking in front of others, the first time I felt the fear of public speaking.

Fast-forward a few years, I was at college here in America. That fear still stuck with me. It was as though, it was part of my soul.

Now when I was little, I had many other fears. I was afraid of the dark, the monsters under my bed, the cockroaches. And I don’t mean the tiny cockroaches here but the big flying cockroaches I had back home in Pakistan and Tanzania.

But I outgrew these fears. I overcame them as I grew older. But public speaking? No way. I was still afraid of it.

But I decided enough was enough. I decided to do something about it, to take that step and find a solution. And so I went to the one place on the internet where we all look for solution to our problems: Google.

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I searched on Google: how to overcome the fear of public speaking?

The first link told me about the great things I could be if I overcame this fear. Sound like a leader. Get a great job. Share your ideas. Give a TED talk. Change the world.

The second link showed me all the different ways I could overcome this fear: hire a speech coach; talk in front of the mirror; do online courses; attend public speaking clubs like Toastmasters. That’s when I realized that I had it wrong all this time.

I thought you are either born a public speaker or you’re not. I was wrong. I realized that public speaking is actually a teachable skill. That means that if any one of you here wants to speak powerfully, like any of your famous public speakers, yes you can .We all can.

Now some of these solutions worked for me, others not so much, like hiring a speech coach, that was outside of my student budget. But online courses, that’s where I learned how to vary my tone up and down, how to talk really really fast that I could get someone’s excited, or to slow right down to get someone’s attention.

And I practiced. I practiced in front of the mirror. At least that’s where I had one friend who thought I was good.

As for the public speaking club Toastmasters, that was fantastic. I got to go in front of others and I got feedback on what I did good and what I did bad. So I did all these things.

And I realized that first, I was trapped in this cold dark hole where the fear of public speaking haunted at me. It pulled me down and over here was this promise of sunshine of green pastures, no anxiety but the path from here to here was all over the place. I had to do all these things and I thought to myself there had to be one simpler way.

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There had to be one way that I could go from here and leap to here. So I went back to Google, the source of all wisdom, did some research. And I started learning and reading a lot about artificial intelligence, about these personal assistants we have in our pocket, like Siri, Alexa who understand what we’re saying.

“Hey Siri, what’s the next meeting I have?

[Siri: Here’s your meeting]

They understand what we say. What if they could also understand how you’re saying something and analyze your voice. What if they could be your speech coaches?

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