The Life and Times of a Public Speaking Trainer Part 5

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So I graduated from my school, having done very well on the academic and sporting fronts.  A new path lay before me and I was heading to a top university in London. Different location but the same baggage of no confidence stayed with me. 

In the second year of university, which started in September 2005, there was an added focus on getting a work placement for the forthcoming summer.

I used to make the placement applications, go for the interviews and then fail miserably. It was very disheartening, especially when you saw some people have multiple placement offers!

My endeavours in getting a placement continued on into the early months of 2006. I still did not get a placement and having failed countless interviews and with the exams approaching, I stopped making applications. While my approach to interviews and not seeking help were things I was doing wrong, there was one thing I did right. I kept going.

After the exams finished at the end of May and everyone amongst my peers were due to start their placements at the end of June, I resumed my attempts to get that elusive work placement.

The last week of June came and while all hope had faded away, I made an application to a procurement consultancy. All those months of trying and failing and trying and failing finally paid off. I finally achieved my goal and this was a massive boost to me on many levels.

The key lessons when I look back at this stage in my life were that I must seek help from those who are better than me so I am better equipped. And that if you try hard enough, the results can be spectacular. I had an enjoyable summer work placement and the result of my working there was that I was offered a graduate role to start when I graduated from university.

To those struggling in public speaking or any other avenue of life, resilience is a crucial friend to have. I think the resilience I developed in playing sports filtered through to getting a work placement and I used the same resilience and determination to remove the anxiety of public speaking.

Having the fear and anxiety of public speaking is natural. It is a human thing and we are all in it together. It isn’t ‘oh, the anxiety of public speaking doesn’t affect my friend or the people I work with, it is just me who has this.

Rather, it is ‘oh, fear and anxiety have affected everyone and those who have control over it have worked hard to remove this fear and anxiety’. Let us begin to look at ten steps to remove the anxiety and fear of public speaking. Here is the first step.

Step 1 – Record yourself standing (don’t say anything)

Any speech made usually has three parts – the speaker, the audience and the context (we will go into more detail about these three parts in later chapters). Of the three, the part you have the greatest control over is you, the speaker.

Being an effective speaker means understanding yourself. It’s about being truly comfortable with yourself and your personality. The more you are at ease with who you are, the easier it will be for you to understand yourself and to express yourself with clarity. When you record yourself, you are watching you. This recording shows you and you only. Become comfortable with what you see. If you feel that you can’t stand to look at yourself, prepare yourself mentally.

Much of speaking with clarity and impact is about you having the correct mindset. Once we have the mindset in place, there really is nothing stopping you from achieving. If you read my story, you will see my mindset was all over the place when speaking in public but once I worked on this (which took time), I was in a far better place to be able to communicate my ideas and opinions.

The first step is about you being at home with yourself. Also, note that I have said don’t speak when recording yourself. First, we are comfortable with our own being and then we can begin developing our speaking ability.

Every student I have ever trained, whether child or director, I have asked them to come to the front of the audience and to just stand there and not say anything. Once you have full comfort and control over yourself, it is far easier to communicate to any person or people.

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