by Cori Arnold, PM2, Mount Vernon Club
It’s that time of the year – the New Year – where we make all kinds of resolutions that many of us only keep up for about a month. Instead of losing weight or making more money, what if you changed up your goal this year and decided to face your fear of public speaking?
We’ve all been there. We’re in a meeting with senior management and we cringe when we have to speak up, or we just stay silent. We have to give a presentation at school or at work, and we feel the anxiety creeping in. You are not alone.
The fear of public speaking is so common that it has a technical name, glossophobia. Glossophobia affects an estimated 40-75% of the population. Whether it’s the attention you fear or the content you’re not completely confident in, this is a very common fear. David Schwartz in his book, The Magic of Thinking Big, said, “action cures fear.” The best way to get over our fear is to take action. Toastmasters offers a safe place for you to practice taking action against this pesky fear of yours.
Within the Toastmaster meetings, you don’t need to prepare an entire speech to participate. Of course, this is an option, but you can also practice speaking by volunteering for a role which requires less preparation. You can participate in Table Topics, which is a one-minute impromptu talk on a specific topic.
Meetings are fun! They offer insight as well as entertainment. They also offer support. We are all there to help each other get better. When we know we’re in a safe place, we can put our fear to rest.
How do you ensure that you don’t treat this goal like a normal resolution that is forgotten after a month?
- Write down your goal on paper. Goals that are written down are much more likely to be achieved.
- Identify with this goal. Refer to yourself as a great speaker. Don’t think about the fear. Focus on the fact that you are an excellent speaker.
- Start making tiny changes.Speak up more at work or during other activities. Don’t take over meetings. Instead, increase your comments or feedback a few times a week. Slow and steady win the race.
- Sign up to visit a Toastmasters meeting as a guest. Many meetings are virtual. You can show up in the comfort of your own home. It’s free to be a guest, and you can visit as many different clubs as you want.
This is the best time of the year to get started. A new year brings new opportunities and challenges. Get the most out of 2022 by growing as a speaker.