In 2020, I joined Toastmasters. I was inspired by the story of a friend who shared how she had to give a speech at a work conference and afterward, felt so bad that she vowed she would never, ever do “that” again. And then she thought some more… “what if I could learn to speak?” She joined Toastmasters, did some other training courses, and now works full-time as a paid speaker.
When I heard that story it surprised me. I thought if you feared public speaking, it fell under the category of other things you weren’t born to do. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could learn how to speak and that that would help me overcome my fear of doing it.
Inspired by this story, I joined my local Toastmasters club. I was surprised at how my confidence grew with each speech I gave. The William Hazlitt quote – “The more you do, the more you can do”, rang true for me.
But there was one part of my journey I wasn’t enjoying. I wasn’t scared anymore, but the preparation and presentation of each speech were accompanied by such intensity and tension. I would tick off each one as “done” as if it were an actual mountain climbed (whew!)
Author Caroline Harvey in the book Enough: Unlock a life of abundance starting right where you are, talks about the importance of finding your voice. She asks,
“What if I removed the veneer of performance and stood there, as myself?”
“a well-rehearsed speech with a carefully crafted script”.
These were words I needed to hear. I was spending hours memorizing to minimize the mortification of forgetting my words. I couldn’t relax because I was so wrapped up in it being word-perfect.
Caroline talks about dropping the guy ropes, the
“researched and rehearsed, checked and controlled …”
She quotes Amy Cuddy “…the more we can be ourselves, the more we are able to be present. And that makes us convincing”.
“As well as concise content, audiences want to see the person behind it”.
I am heading into my second year of Toastmasters and I would thoroughly recommend the experience. I no longer fear public speaking and as I let go of the guy ropes (thank you Caroline), I am enjoying it more and more.
Please check out Enough: Unlock a life of abundance starting right where you are. This is a collaborative book project I have had the privilege to be a part of.