Leslie Morgan Steiner speaks about her book Crazy Love, and her personal story of being a battered wife in a TED talk lasting 15 minutes and 57 seconds. She discusses the way that women feel trapped by abusive relationships, and fearful of leaving. She makes a very strong case that women who do leave actually are at greater risk of being killed by their abuser.
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All the way through her talk, she speaks clearly, and uses very simple language, although she has a graduate degree herself. She forces the audience to re-examine their assumptions about a battered wife.
The only thing that bothered me about her presentation was that she wore an outfit trimmed in leather, rather short, and tight. It was a bit revealing for a lady her age, and it was not becoming. I found it distracting. She was otherwise a very effective speaker.
Over the last several years, I have worked as a cashier in a Japanese restaurant. The fact that I am Chinese usually goes unnoticed by most native-born American customers. After all, I look Asian. However, one day, some actually Japanese customers arrived, and when they came to the cashier’s desk, they tried to talk with me. This was, at first, very embarrassing.
Then, however, the owners saw that I was struggling to explain the situation that I did speak Japanese and rushed over. They told the Japanese customers that in the USA, everyone can work anywhere and that it should not surprise them to find people of all backgrounds working wherever they go to eat. I smiled and bowed all the while, and decided I must really learn at least one or two words in Japanese!
I have very bad stage fright. The few times I have been forced to speak in front of a group, I have made a mess of it. Between my accent and my struggles with spoken English vocabulary, I have been told that I am very difficult to understand.
Knowing this just makes me more hesitant, embarrassed, and miserable. To improve, I have tried to take a course in communications! I hope to learn specific techniques. I wonder if practicing the difficult words, and listening to a recording of myself would help me. I also wonder about some sort of relaxation technique.
My most admired speaker is my uncle. He is now dead, but when I was very young, he would tell his nephews and nieces wonderful stories. These included traditional stories that explained nature, like how the rabbit got into the moon, or had a moral, like the Chinese Cinderella, or described life in his childhood.
He did not speak very loudly, but he changed his voice to sound like a princess, or a toad, or one of the Five Ancients: whatever was needed to make the tale come alive and exciting.
He used simple language that we children could understand, but he discussed serious and important topics in his stories, like death, or famine, or betrayal. I probably would have loved listening to him even if he had had a horrible voice, because he was taking the time to pay attention to us little kids, both girls and boys.
As a public speaker, right now, it is hard for me to think of any strengths of my speaking style. They seem very much outweighed by my weaknesses. I do have the commitment to work hard and try to learn to be a better speaker, but right now, I lack many of the necessary skills.
I have a strong accent, and I am not confident about my pronunciation of many words in English. In China, women are still sometimes expected to speak softly and sweetly instead of powerfully. I get flustered and even drop my notes. However, I am capable of writing well-organized material. I seriously want to improve, so, once I develop the speaking skills, I hope to be able to put together a well-structured, clear presentation.