The Life and Times of a Public Speaking Trainer Part 7

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After university, my life carried on as normal. Nothing spectacular happened, except for one thing – I saw an advert encouraging people to join a public speaking club. Having low confidence never got me anywhere so maybe I should join.

The club was based in Westminster, very near to my workplace and so that was handy. I needed all the help and ease I could get if I was to make this huge step. I had a problem and maybe this was the solution.

I went along to my first session not knowing what to expect. The room was grand and there were about 20 people, my guess being maybe all of them needed to build their confidence. That thought was brought to a halt when the president of the club came and spoke to me. She was so confident and put me at ease.

The lesson from the above is ultimately one needs to speak in public to become an able public speaker. If this means joining a public speaking club or doing a weekly presentation at work or being a mentor to a group of people, then I encourage every person to do so.

In the same way, one cannot become an able swimmer just by reading books on swimming and watching people swim – they ultimately have to plunge themselves into the water to become an able swimmer. Likewise, one needs to do the same to become an able speaker by standing in front of people and speaking. Continuing on with the ten steps to removing the fear and anxiety of public speaking:-

Step 4 – Find someone you know and trust

Becoming better in any field is about having the right coaches and the right mentors to help you along the way. Ask any successful professional about how they became successful and they will always mention a person or group of people who helped them.

Likewise, for our speaking endeavours, we are going to need people around us who want the best for us. When I was a member of the public speaking club, I had a couple of mentors who provided invaluable advice. I remember mentioning to one of them that often when I spoke I used to forget quite crucial points in speeches I made (I didn’t want to use notes) and hence I would hesitate in front of the audience.

He looked at me and said first that this is natural when starting out on the public speaking journey. Then he continued that it is important to remember that the audience can’t read your mind and so they are not aware that you have missed out any points. So the thing to do is to just continue and not to hesitate.

This is all I needed and henceforth I have reached the stage where I am not hesitating if I miss out any points.

Once you have assigned yourself a few mentors (can be just one mentor) – they can be friends, family, colleagues, anyone you trust – then it is worthwhile sitting down with them and to let them understand who you are.

Step 5 – Try to achieve in other fields such as work, sports, cooking, etc.

I touched upon this in the last chapter. Now that we have become more familiar with ourselves and we have our mentors in place, it is fitting now to bring our confidence levels up to optimal levels.

My belief is that everyone, no matter where they are from, is supremely gifted. If public speaking isn’t that gift then you will have some other thing which you excel in. So when I was growing up, I was naturally talented in sports and I used to win quite a few tournaments. So I remember when fellow school pupils made fun of the way I spoke, that usually was quite annoying. But in sports, these same pupils were nothing compared to me and I used to bash them – this gave me much confidence and allowed me to hold my own.

So the idea here is to channel confidence in other fields, let’s say you bake an amazing cake, to the idea of public speaking. Being confident in other fields won’t necessarily translate into having full confidence in public speaking (as we shall see later on) but it will help.

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