Speak Up with Confidence: Join Toastmasters

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you better meet the challenge of public speaking. Reading time 4:25.

          Your palms are moist. Your mouth is dry. Your stomach is churning. Your eyes are burning. And your lips are quivering. You’re sure you’re going to die just as soon as you step up to that podium or next to that lectern.

          Your fear is very real and natural, especially for infrequent or inexperienced speakers.

         “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars,” said Mark Twain, the author and public speaker.

        The most effective leaders understand that fear is your body’s calling card, summoning up just the right amount of adrenalin to prod and provoke you beyond your comfort zone so that you can perform such an unnatural act as standing before more than one other person and speaking your mind.

       Your fear is not only normal.

       It is necessary as Joshua Liebman writes in his book Peace of Mind: “If we were to take away man’s capacity to fear, we would take away also his capacity to grow since fear is often a stimulus to growth, the goad to invention.”

Fear = Growth

        Properly channeled, fear can become a catalyst for your growth as a public speaker. Your fear can heighten your awareness, energize your body language and focus your concentration.

        Likewise all public speakers recognize that fear (a.k.a. stage fright) comes with the territory. Most first time and infrequent speakers see the DANGER signs posted all around the podium:

“Keep Out. Warning. Warning.
The Fear of Public Speaking
is the #1 fear of most people.”

    Public Speaking is a fear greater than the fear of death or snakes –according to the Book of Lists. 

        Conquering Verbal Tics Ums, Errrs & You Knows

       That fear is exacerbated when they learn that the fear of public speaking can even afflict the brave like astronaut Gus Grissom.

      “Asking Gus to just say a few words was like handing him a knife and asking him to open a main vein,” writes author Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff.

      Grissom commanded the first Gemini manned space flight and logged more than 100 missions as a fighter pilot during the Korean Conflict yet he suffered podium-itis.

       The fear of public speaking can also afflict the powerful.

      Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II, said he became so nervous before speaking, in public he felt like a nine-inch brick of ice hit him in the stomach.

           And when you’re that nervous you pollute your speeches with an array of  verbal tics from a flood of Ums and Errrs to punctuating every other sentence with “you know.” You know.

      Yes we know. Consider Caroline (“you know”) Kennedy.

      The daughter of President John Kennedy crashed her senatorial aspiration into a wall of “you knows”  and “ums” before  her ill-fated maiden run for public office even began.

     Carolyn Kennedy’s bout with the microphone is personal proof that effective public speaking is a learned skill not an inherited trait. That’s the good news.

     And that means, no matter how much you dread public speaking, you can learn how to speak up with confidence in public.

     You can stifle those Ums and Errrs. You can bury those “you knows” you know where. You can get your butterflies to fly in formation. How?

Visit A Toastmasters Club Near You

          Join Toastmasters International, a non-profit organization with more than 12,000 clubs in more than 100 countries.

         Toastmasters International is the world’s largest organization (235,000 members) helping ordinary people from all walks of life enhance their public speaking and personal leadership skills.

        Toastmasters host regular meetings once a week to practice and hone communications and leadership skills. Each member of the club assumes various leadership roles and speaking opportunities on a voluntary basis. Members learn at their own pace.

      Visit a Toastmasters club near you. It’s free for visitors. And relax, you don’t have to speak if you don’t want to. Just watch how others are turning their fears into cheers at the podium or lectern.

       Practice your public speaking in an encouraging and supportive environment of a Toastmasters club on a regular basis with peers who are facing the same fears and challenges.

      To find a Toastmasters Club near you: Call 1.949.858.8255. Or click (www.toastmasters. org).

Today’s ImproveMINT

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