I recognize that public speaking can be an important skill, but even though I teach, have presented workshops about difficult topics to crowds of people, and facilitate groups, it still doesn’t always come naturally to me.

As a proud introverted person, I process things internally and typically need more time to reflect before responding than is often deemed appropriate for “on the fly”, “real-time” rate of pace that I have come to believe is expected in many public spaces.

Although exaggerated, I saw a bit of myself in the sloth in terms of its comparison with a different processing style, and in regards to the timing I need to process things before responding.

At times I have been a reluctant public speaker; partly because of how energy sapping the act of public speaking can be for me, and partly because of the subtle and overt messages I received about my racial identity that taught me that I shouldn’t speak; that my voice wasn’t valid; that my experiences, and concerns didn’t matter.

One of the reasons I love higher education so much is that I was able to find my voice from affirming people, experiences, and places I had on campus and in the classroom. And from those moments, throughout those years, I came to realize that what helped me push through my reluctance to speak; what helped me overcome the temptation to stay silent, particularly about issues related to social justice was the passion and purpose behind the words.

Tapping into that sense of passion and purpose and speaking from the heart has emboldened me to say and do things that I didn’t think I could, and it continues to serve me today.

How are you with public speaking?


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones

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I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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3 Responses

  1. I’m an introvert myself, and I still find public speaking to be a challenge. When it comes to speaking on the fly, I feel more in my element when I’m speaking about something I’m passionate about. As I think about it, I don’t believe I’ve ever felt that my voice has been silenced, though when I was younger I was often asked why was I so quiet. My response was that I don’t have anything to say. Now I know that it isn’t so much that I don’t have anything to say; it’s that I rather speak when I feel ii can contribute to the conversation rather than speaking just to speak. As far as public speaking goes, I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I’ll never feel nervous initially, but I try to tame it by thinking of how what I’m about to say may benefit someone.

    • I love your thoughts here Nicole! For me, thinking about the purpose and how what I am about to share might benefit someone in the room definitely helps me do what I need to do. Quality over quantity in relationships, communication, and other areas is one of the values that I have developed over time, and I think my introversion definitely plays a role in that, so I appreciated your sentiments on not speaking just to speak, but rather, saying something when you feel that you have something to say. Thank you.

  1. November 12, 2020

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