New Year’s Resolution: Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking
If you’ve set “overcoming the fear of public speaking” on your new year’s resolution list, I’m guess you have a good reason for it. Are you hoping to do better at work or at school by overcoming the fear? Do you have an important message to share that won’t get out there if you don’t learn to stand at the front of a room? Do you have a subpoena in your hand and not want to wet yourself on the courtroom stand? Whatever your reason, keep the importance of why you’re making your goal in mind as you consider these…
Tips for Achieving Your New Year’s Resolution in Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking
Join a Toastmasters Club near you!
I joined Toastmasters over 11 years ago. When I joined, I asked the club sponsor if I had to be afraid of public speaking to join. She said no. (Great, I thought. A captive audience!) But I knew going in that one of the reason people join a Toastmasters club is to overcome the fear of public speaking.
I’d seen the cartoons where Wiley Coyote’s knees were knocking from fear. But I’d never see it happen to a real live person… until one day 11 years ago when I watched a club member named Chris give her first speech. It was painful for Chris. Her knees literally knocked together. She was so uncomfortable.
But here’s the thing, a Toastmasters club is intended to be a supportive environment. No one was there to rag on Chris and make her feel bad. Toastmasters became a great environment for her to overcome her fears. Chris worked through the program and become more comfortable and confident standing at the front of the room. She credits her time Toastmasters for giving her the courage to pursue new avenues in her professional career.
If you’ve never been to a club try it. Visit several clubs a few times to find the club atmosphere and a schedule that will work for you. It’s free to visit and cheap to join.
You can find clubs in your area by going to Toastmasters.org, click on the red button that says “Find” on the top left side of the page, and putting in your zip code at work or home. Or if you can’t find a club near you, contact Toastmasters International directly and they’ll help you start one!
Talk about What You Know
On my way to a Toastmasters meeting, Amy looked at me like I was crazy. I was actually spending my lunch hour doing public speaking. “I hate public speaking – I’m avoid it at all costs.”
“But Amy,” I said. “Didn’t you just do a briefing to a group of software testers explaining the latest changes to system?”
“Well, that’s different,” Amy said. “I know that subject cold. I’m OK when I know what I’m talking about.”
Most of us are.
If you want to overcome your fear of public speaking, find the topic that you know extremely well and look for opportunities to talk about that.
Are you an expert in one area of your job? Ask your boss if you can share what you know in a team meeting or during a lunch and learn session for colleagues.
Have a hobby you’re crazy about? Talk to a group of young people at your house of worship or local scout troop so they can learn more about that pastime.
Other Low Risk Opportunities to Speak
If you don’t have time for a Toastmasters club, find other place in your life where the risk is low and people are supportive.
Express an opinion at a book club, Bible study group, or family gathering.
Speak up at a team meeting.
Volunteer to be on a committee.
Participate in a non-profit organization with group meetings.
Challenge yourself to ask a question in group settings.
Each time you find a new opportunity to speak up, you’ll learn that you can live through it. You can contribute. People will want to hear what you have to say. That positive reinforcement will help it get easier for you to speak up when you want to.
Remember the Why Behind Your Goal
You set this goal of overcoming the fear of public speaking for a reason. Let that motivation help you as you apply the techniques above.
We’d love to hear your stories of your goal to overcome your fear of public speaking. Share your success and struggles below.
You can do it. 2013 can be the year when you get comfortable with public speaking!!!