Scared of speaking in public? You’re not alone.
Fear of public speaking ranks high on the scale, close to the fear of death. What does this tell us about ourselves?
Most of us find that if we are asked to teach something others need to know, our focus is on the importance of getting out the message. However, when we think about “public speaking” our focus becomes all about the little “me.” What if I mess up, choke up, look like a jerk, create a mental block?
Recently I tested myself at a Toastmasters meeting. I’d been trying for the past year to develop better speaking skills and had been glued to my notes. This time I told myself my speech had to be designed around something I was passionate about; that I could walk up to anyone and share without hesitation. I chose to give a talk centered on the near-miraculous event of having 15-inspirational songs come through me and knowing I had to release them to the world. Results were just what I had wanted. I released my few notes to the lectern, stepped away and nailed a 5-7 minute talk! Well, actually I did use one extra minute but nobody noticed as they were so engaged.
I have also recently challenged myself to give more classes and to speak out when questions arise in other areas of life and work. Taking out the fear factor in a Toastmasters meeting means remembering the audience is really there to:
- Better their speaking skills
- Support one another
- Learn something new
The one thing we never gather for is to judge one another. Concentrating on the fact that we are essentially “giving” something of value to our audience rather than “getting” their approval takes another big bite out of the emotion of fear.
Some organizations advertise, “work alone or one-on-one in the privacy of your own home.” With Toastmasters you get real experience in a group setting. After all, it’s not called “public speaking” when the only audience is you! We’ve all got fears but why not put this big one away. Master your speech! Join Bainbridge Island Toastmasters, 1st and 3rd Thursdays at 11:55am at the Winslow Arms clubhouse.