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    Give your public speaking abilities the much needed face-lift, courtesy Jesse Fox-Allen’s workshop.

    If YOU have seen Pranchiyettan and the Saint, you would remember how Mammootty finds solace in the imaginary character of St Francis of Assisi, from whom he takes advice. What many of you may not know is that the saint’s character was played by the Australian actor, Jesse Fox-Allen, who came to the country with his mother at the age of three and now lives in Auroville. Besides the Malayalam movie, he has also acted in TV commercials and is awaiting the release of his upcoming movie—a Tamil flick called Mannar Valaikuda, directed by Dhanasekaran. But before the movie’s release on September 27, you can catch him next week, sharing tips on public speaking in the second edition of his Speak To Inspire series of workshops at Auroville.

    Theatre connect
    These workshops are conceptualised by Fox-Allen himself. ‘Since I have a theatre background, I approach public speaking from a theatre standpoint,” he shares. His workshops usually start with an emphasis on breathing. “Breath has everything to do with the way we use our voices. The exercises in the beginning develop an awareness of how our breath works,” he says.

    Stay easy
    He then moves on to the new segments on voice and body language, which according to him are the two major aspects that govern public speaking, and they can be improved by “being relaxed and comfortable” in front of the mike. These form the crux of his second workshop on September 24, which was introduced because of popular demand from those who attended his previous workshops. “By understanding what structures and motivates their own fear of speaking, public speakers, rather than dismissing it, can use the fear as a power to charge their presence,” he says, bringing up the example of Lakshmi, a former student of his. “She was intensely introverted, but left at the end of my workshop, a confident and outspoken young woman,” he smiles. We learn that she later got a job in a video production firm.

    Decoding fear
    The most challenging public speaking forum, he believes, is the one where the speaker also functions as a facilitator between competing interests, for example, a debate. “The speaker in this context is required, under great pressure, to think on his/her feet, improvise and maintain neutrality and balance before a highly-charged audience,” he explains. He further admits that the fear of public speaking is a universal one. Perhaps that is why his workshops see participants from different walks of life, be it a corporate professional or an actor or regular individuals. The workshops are mostly conducted in English, but he is open to introducing regional languages. “I would need to train native speakers to conduct those sessions as I would not do them justice,” he opines. Besides the Auroville workshops, he also conducts private coaching classes. You can reach him at indispirit@gmail.com.

    On September 17 and 24. Register at  Rs 2,400 per head, per session. Details: 9486623749

    — Karan Pillai

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