Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

by Susan
(New Zealand)

An interview with Maree from my Toastmaster's Club on the benefits of overcoming fear of public speaking.

"What's getting over your fear of public speaking done for you?"

I asked this question of Maree.

She paused and then said, "Everything. I was at the crossroad in my career, getting bored where I was and I needed to move up into teaching and facilitating but I was very nervous about it."

"Because I was anxious I kept procrastinating about making the changes necessary. The more I procrastinated, the more stuck I got and the more stuck I got...It was a silly circle. I didn't stop running around it until a friend took me to Toastmasters. Even then it took me an age to speak up!"

Maree laughed as she said the last sentence and shook her head.
"I was so unnecessarily scared. They were so friendly at Toastmasters and so eager to see me succeed. I just took awhile to lose the shyness."

Now it was my turn for disbelief. Maree? Shy?
She's a leading member of my Toastmaster club and I regularly see and hear her make speeches. She's competent, witty and warm. Audiences always appreciate her and she appears never without something pertinent to say.

My next question was easy: "How did you make the transformation?"

Maree: "It was step by gradual step. Each time I made an effort and discovered it was worthwhile, actually OK and even kind of fun, the fear got smaller. As it got smaller, I got braver."

"How did getting braver over public speaking influence your work choices?"

Maree: "Well, I put in for the positions I really wanted and I got them. What made a huge difference was how I learnt to handle job interviews too. The 'new' me was calm and confident. I could think on my feet and structure answers. That's what practice at Toastmasters has given me - the ability to speak well in impromptu situations. I couldn't believe it! I'd stopped feeling sick, 'umming and ahhing' and all that stuff.
Having Toastmasters public speaking on my CV helped too. It let people know I took learning to speak well in front of others seriously, backing me up for the positions I was applying for."

"Have there been other changes too?"

Maree: "Oh, very much so. There's been a lot personal growth come with the increased confidence. I am much more open than I was, less quick to judge and I really enjoy helping others achieve too.
My family have noticed too. Last year I made the speech at my Mother's 70th birthday party. It was a great success. The audience loved it, especially the way I'd structured it with bits of world history, like the fact she grew up during World War Two and her own stories."

Can you sum up the benefits public speaking has given you?

Maree: "Freedom. I am 'bigger' and better person through overcoming the fear."

Are you in a similar position to Maree? Or perhaps you know someone who is?

Get yourself (or them along) to your local Toastmaster club. They are ALL over the world and there is most likely one nearby.

Whether or not you go to Toastmasters you'll find this page below useful to remind yourself (or a friend) why overcoming fear of public speaking is good for you!
Make these 14 BIG benefits of public speaking yours

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