Public Speaking and The Law of Relativity

By James Chase

The Law of Relativity states that “there is nothing essentially good or bad until we related it to something else.” How can something be neither good nor bad? It comes down to perspective.

In my communication classes one of the subjects I teach is perspective. The technical definition states that perception is “the process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting information considered valuable enough to give importance and meaning to information one receives.” How one person perceives a situation can be entirely different to another person. To illustrate this I like to use the “Old Lady/Young Lady” optical illusion. As you look at the picture some see and older lady and some see a younger lady. It depends where you’re looking.

In my youth I was relentlessly teased for volunteering to give speeches (amongst other things). It was my desire to become a teacher which required public speaking. Because I was teased I viewed public speaking as a bad thing. This perception then became my reality. In the end, I believe if I had not been teased I would have still viewed public speaking as a good thing. Every semester I have students who come into class with one or the other viewpoint or perspective. My experience has helped each of them get over their fear and become better public speakers.

I think the “better me” comes from how I look at each and every situation. If it is negative it comes back negative; if it is positive it comes back positive. It’s how I relate to it.


Dr. James B. Chase, Jr., EdD
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