I prepared and presented a speech on public speaking, which got the wheels in my head churning, as I contemplated my journey of speaking at public forums.
By nature I am an introvert, almost to the point, that it may have in some way inhibited my personal and professional development, because I was so unwilling to be in the forefront. In the past, I always felt that I had nothing of any consequence to say or I would second guess myself into thinking that I wasn’t smart enough to speak up and speak out on whatever topic was being discussed.
In the meantime, I was secretly dreaming of becoming a talk show host and maybe a performer, dancing in high heels and belting out some exciting and energetic tunes, but doing absolutely nothing to progress those dreams.
I was too shy to ever try any of those things and many times that ‘shyness’ was viewed by others as being aloof, rude and bourgeoisie. This so called ‘shyness’ on many occasions, also manifested itself in the form of others imposing their opinions on me or speaking for me, with a message which did not reflect my personal views.
So there you have it, while I did not recognize it then, I now understand that my self-confidence was tied to my ability to speak up and speak out. This was a problem!
It so happened that I stumbled on a solution in an organic manner rather than deliberate structured self-intervention, and the solution came about when I joined a community service organisation, the Rotaract Club of Georgetown. This was my first real opportunity to speak up and speak often.
During my time at the club, I held the positions of both Professional Development Director and Club President and this required me to speak publicly on many more occasions than that which had occurred in my past. My speaking experience in the Rotaract Club started on my first day, when I was asked to stand and introduce myself. After a brief period of unadulterated panic, I stood, took a deep breath and introduced myself to the club and I survived (no surprise there).
When the time came for me to assume the role of President, some of that irrational fear (self-doubt) returned, despite having a year of practice of giving reports to the club on my committee’s activities. As the day of the first meeting approached, I was undeniably nervous and anxious about conducting the meeting. However, I prepared and practiced and got through the meeting alive and well.
I soon realized that first meeting was a bridge that allowed to crossover from being afraid to a woman who was confident in her abilities and skills. Skills that increased as I continued to chair those bi-weekly meetings.
That self-confidence continued to grow until I found myself on stage at the National Cultural Centre chairing a session of a RYLA conference. Right there and then, I recognized that I was proud of myself for allowing myself the opportunity to do this, I was proud of myself for not letting the fear of public speaking be a determining factor in my life. I felt confident in myself and in my abilities.
But I left that club and time passed, and the old me returned, the shy, inward directed person.
However, by that time being a little older and wiser, I had recognized what had worked for me in the past, so I turned to another similar source to grab back that confidence that I know I possessed, I joined the Spiceisle Toastmasters Club. After the many years of being in hibernation that confident woman slowly emerged in a supportive environment that nurtures public speaking and leadership.
I intend to continue on that journey of using the opportunity to speak at public engagements as a driver to build my self-confidence and would, without hesitation, recommend to anyone that if you are ready to get past your fear of public speaking that you should try my suggestion of joining an organization that provides you with the right environment to practice your public speaking skills, because I firmly believe that each and everyone one of us has something to say, something to add the conversation, something to add to life, but if you are paralyzed by fear (FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL) you will never know what opportunities could be passing you by.
It’s highly unlikely that I will ever be on stage dancing and singing (because I really can’t sing and there is no hiding that) but maybe that Talk Show Host may still be within my reach and when the time comes I will, Prepare, Practice and Perform and do my best to remember to Keep Calm and Speak On!