I often get asked about how one can overcome the fear of public speaking. In fact, I haven’t yet mastered the art personally.
I met Dr. Hakeem Onasanya at the Essence Program organized by The Umm Fariha Network last year. I must say that not only was I impressed by his presentation and how professional he handled the sessions. But, my curiosity was heightened when I got to know that he is a Dentist.
Truly, I wanted to know his story of how he transitioned and discovered his passion. Hence, I reached out to him seeking for his approval to be interviewed in which was granted.
Hopefully, we all can benefit from this.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION ABOUT DR HAKEEM
My name is Onasanya Olufemi Hakeem. An indigene of Ijebu in Ogun state, I graduated as a dentist from the prestigious University of Lagos. I am a lifetime student of public speaking which ushered me into the media world as a TV host and a Compere. I started hosting events back at the university in 2011.
WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE ART OF PUBLIC SPEAKING ESPECIALLY WITH YOU BEING AN MC?
There is this saying that goes thus “One thing that distinguishes a man in a multitude is his ability to speak well”.
Public speaking is an integral part of communication which is also an integral part of leadership. This means that if you want to be an awesome leader, you must be a student of public speaking. These are the reasons I devoted my life right from secondary school to learn the art of public speaking. I stuttered while growing up and was determined never to allow it deter me from speaking well.
As a student in the university, I was always troubled by the fact that as a part of the audience at events, I was always lost during an event. This, I attributed to the emcees because the event is right on their shoulders. I kept noting their mistakes and started learning how to anchor an event and also how to control myself from stuttering in public.
My big break came in 200L when I was told to co-anchor an event; I was initially nervous and scared. But, holding the mic and looking right into the faces of the audience, I told myself “the highest they will do is to laugh at me but I will not die”. I did it and I have lost count of the number of events I have anchored in the prestigious Old Great hall of Luth. One thing that kept me going since then was the smile on the face of the audience during the events and I knew that they were enjoying themselves regardless of how boring the guest lecturers were.
I started off emceeing with corporate events and was always scared of social events. I declined about 10 weddings before I took up the first one in Aug. 2016 because the bride threatened me. Before I finished that wedding, I got another request to anchor another wedding and that was how I took off. It’s been fun since then.
I want to use this opportunity to thank AYULAH for helping me with my very first set of weddings and also giving me one to do.
HOW DOES DR HAKEEM JUGGLE BETWEEN BEING A PUBLIC SPEAKER (MC) AND A DENTIST?
I always wanted to be a medical doctor but I got in to study dentistry. I didn’t know that God had a better plan for me as a dentist and I can say that being a dentist is the best thing that ever happened to me. Being a dentist means that I don’t work over the weekend and I also have a more flexible work schedule.
If you do what you love, no matter how tasking it is; it’s not called stress. I won’t deny the fact that it’s been challenging but it’s also been fun. Nothing can be compared to making people happy on the best days of their lives.
WHAT IMPRINT DO YOU STRIVE TO LEAVE IN THE MIND OF YOUR AUDIENCE?
The one thing I want my audience to always know about Dr. Hakeem is; REGARDLESS OF THE TYPE OF EVENT, I WILL ALWAYS CREATE FUN AND EXCITEMENT WITHOUT DILUTING THE REAL ESSENCE OF THE EVENT.
WHAT GIVES DR HAKEEM THE SENSE OF FULFILMENT IN HIS CAREER CHOICE
Anything that I do that doesn’t create happiness in people around me is a waste of my time.
Nothing can be compared to the joy of knowing that everyone in a particular venue is happy and fulfilled because of me. The feedbacks I get also fuel the adrenaline to keep firing.
WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND “THE PRIM AND PROPER MC” AND PUBLIC SPEAKER?
The tagline, “The Prim & Proper MC” was given to me by a senior colleague who is a dentist and an event planner. She was at my second event back in 2016 and I pleaded with her to analyze my performance. She told me afterward that the Prim and Proper style fits me based on what she saw and ALAS!, I adopted that tagline since then.
WHAT FROM THE PAST HAUNTS YOU AS AN MC? WERE YOU NOT GOOD ENOUGH ONCE.
As a master of ceremony, there will surely be an event that you wish you could go back in time to anchor again. I also have my share of those types of events.
But since we can’t go back in time, the only thing we can do is to make subsequent events better than the last. Instead of them haunting me, they motivate me.
WAS THERE A CLIENT THAT DIDN’T LIKE YOUR PRESENTATION?
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I can’t remember having a client who didn’t like how I handled his/her event.
The only thing is that I might not have delivered at par with my personal expectations which can be due to lots of factors beyond my control. But as an MC, I have to ensure that no matter what props up during an event, it must not affect the flow of the event.
DO YOU HAVE A ROLE MODEL?
I have a role model and he is Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W).
WHAT ARE THE PERSONAL VALUES YOU STAND BY?
As an individual, my values are:
- IN ANYTHING YOU DO, ALWAYS HAVE THE END IN MIND.
- I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS BUT I KNOW ITS DEPENDENT ON HOW WELL I HANDLE MY PRESENT
- AS A MAN THINKETH SO SHALL HE BE
With being an MC, my value is YOUR JOB IS NOT DONE UNTIL EVERYBODY HAS HAD A GOOD TIME
As a Leader, my value is PEOPLE DONT CARE HOW MUCH YOU KNOW UNTIL THEY KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE.
And a Motivator, my value is IF YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND, YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIME EFFECTIVELY?
Well, it’s not been easy juggling working Monday to Friday. Even sometimes, having events on Saturday and Sunday and I still have to be at the office on Monday morning 9.00 AM.
I try to ensure that nothing from the weekday spills into the weekends. So that nothing affects my flow at events and also at every opportunity I have to rest, I DO.
I am not the outing type except its absolutely necessary because of the workload I have. It’s like I work 7 days a week but like I said earlier, it’s really fun.
WHAT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEING LIKE WITH PUBLIC SPEAKING.
It’s been fun and as well challenging. Especially having to carry along a crowd with different social orientations, the young and old, the English and non-English speaking. It really tasks me to find a middle ground and ensure that no one is left out. If it’s not challenging, then it holds no growth potential.
HOW DID YOU TRAIN YOURSELF TO BE A PUBLIC SPEAKER?
I hear people say that some people are born as excellent speakers, I stand to say that it’s not true. One factor that has helped me in the field of public speaking is that I am not afraid of people’s reactions. As a student in primary and secondary school; I was short, slim and I stutter so I was the right person to be laughed at. But shebi it’s laugh, I started getting used to it. I also would go home, hold a comb facing the mirror and make speeches.
I understood that nothing trains a speaker as much as a stage to speak on. So, I took every opportunity to speak and I made mistakes; was carried away from the stage, laughed at but I got better with time. In the university, I started reading books on speaking and internalized the principles. I also took out time to listen to other great speakers and learned from them. Public speaking is a lifetime project and I have devoted my life to it.
ANY 3 ESSENTIAL TIPS TO HELP PEOPLE OVERCOME THE FEAR OF PUBLIC SPEAKING.
I always start with asking people; if you were to read A to Z in front of nursey 1 pupils, will you be scared? Everyone would have said NO.
The reason is:
- KNOWLEDGE: you know A to Z, this gives you confidence so you are not scared. No matter the presentation or topic, ensure that you gather enough knowledge on it so that you know better than anyone else. With that, you are confident and you will see them as nursery pupils that you are talking to.
- BELIEVE IN SELF: a saying goes this “IF YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN OR YOU BELIEVE YOU CANT, YOU ARE RIGHT”. The second most important thing is having that unshakable belief in yourself that you can do it. It also cuts across everything that we do in life.
- DO IT: no matter the books you read, the number of videos you have watched; if you don’t seize an opportunity to speak then you have done nothing. The first attempt is always not easy but you still have to do it.
The long-term vision is to put all my skills in speaking, healthcare, and management to make the world a better place. I want to be seen as an individual who came to a place and left it better than he met it. So help me GOD.
HOW CAN PROSPECTIVE CUSTOMERS REACH ME?
They can reach me via Instagram, my phone no +2347082245148, or email at email@example.com.
Until my next post, stay blessed. Thank you.