My palms were sweating, heart was racing, my mind was churning through each of my points, and I was about to walk to the front of the room to give my first speech at Toastmasters in June of 2013. I was attending regular meetings for about a month. I did a table topic and some other roles. Thinking back makes me wish I would have video taped some of those past performances. I would have liked to see the difference from today. Before joining Toastmasters, I can’t say I didn’t like to speak in public but I got nervous to speak.
Three years later, I find myself trying to give a speech every week. Even a year ago, I wouldn’t have thought this was possible but I’m now into week 13 of my 2016 goal. It’s been pretty amazing. It’s been kind of overwhelming to come up with material but the pressure has helped me grow. I think I’ve actually given more than a speech every week since the past week or two I’ve been practicing my competition speech.
It took me a while to to get over my fear. It wasn’t exactly public speaking but really talking in front of strangers. This fear was also one of my roadblocks to expanding my network. That’s another area Toastmasters has helped my build upon. I plan to continue building my network and getting involved in different communities like Toastmasters.
Don’t be afraid. Fear is something happy people don’t worry about. Happy people aren’t afraid of being afraid. Conquering my fear of public speaking by standing up one day at a time has helped me in many areas of my life. That’s all I’m trying to do.
This was a great weekend. I think I gave the best speech of my life but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been better. My goal going forward is to continue to give a speech every week but continue focusing on practice and perfecting the little things that make a speech great, like eliminating my crutch words, improving vocal variety, body movement, and eye contact. The key for me is practice, practice, and more practice. Keep standing up every week.