Mar 202015

I never planned to be a public speaker. I never participated in recitation and one history teacher gave me a failing grade because of it.

I hated speaking in front of people yet I am fascinated by the ability of certain speakers to engage the audience and enthrall them with their words and presentations.

I remember when I shared the public stage with the very kind Dr. Harold Sala. He saw how nervous I was and he said something I will never forget, “Francis, whether you are speaking to 100, 1,000 or 10,000, the principle is the same. Just think that you are speaking to one person and speak from the heart.” This crucial speaking tip that he shared with me propelled me to do what I am doing today.

Dr. Harold Sala also said something else that resonated within me, “You know Francis, my most favorite part of the talk is the question and answer portion.”

Now, here is a secret that many speakers won’t tell. Many speakers hate the question and answer portion because it is the part of the presentation that is beyond control.

You never know who will be there. There could be hecklers, offended people who would like to knock you out in public, and some participants who would like to use the chance to present themselves as speakers or promote their personal agendas.

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You never really know what will happen. There are professional speakers who are clear about not wanting to have “Q&A” after the presentation. And I fully understand them.

The presentation can be very impressive, but if the speaker cannot execute the Q&A portion well, then the entire presentation could go down the drain and leave a negative impression.

Dr. Sala said, “The reason I love the Q&A portion is because it is the only portion of the presentation when we get to know the needs of the listeners.”

A good mentor makes all the difference. 

Dr. Sala made me realize that the importance of presentation is to provide the audience with something they find useful. In other words, it’s all about the audience, not about the speaker. 

As of this writing, I have done 65 talks, trainings and seminars for this year. The advice I learned from Dr. Sala many years ago still resonates today for which I am eternally grateful.

Also, I learned a lot from my participants, some would even contribute to the points I present or correct them. Their questions reveal their needs and thoughts.

My son, Bryan, is into speaking as well. Understandably, he is a little nervous about the Q&A portion, but he doesn’t show it. When he said he’s not comfortable with it, I smiled, put my arm around his shoulder and said the same advice I learned from Dr. Sala.

Dreading public speaking is a normal feeling. Get yourself a good mentor who can help you build your skills. There is so much power behind the ability to communicate effectively.

Public speaking can change lives, and it is a responsibility wrapped up in words that can make a difference. And I encourage you to discover the power of this amazing endeavor.

You can connect with Francis Kong through Facebook at or listen to his program called “Business Matters” from Monday to Friday at 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. in 98.7 dzFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.

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