Much of what has been covered in this series (click here for all the posts) sounds logical and straightforward. With preparation and practice it is! One thing is reading and cognitively understanding. The other thing is to actually experience it.
I was very shy as a child. My speeches at school were terrible. I could hardly get a word out and read my speeches out each single time. I turned a bright shade of red, stuttered and made zero eye contact. I hated doing speeches at school and I vowed that this was something I was not going to ever do ever again!
Many years later, as a young professional I was introduced to Toastmasters. I was not initially impressed and did not go to another meeting for a year or so.
It so happened that my employer got the Toastmasters crowd in to do a Speechcraft course as part of learning and development and I was chosen to be a participant. I reluctantly went.
The experience was better than my school one. Naturally as an adult I experienced things differently and I could see the benefits for my career.
Initially I read the speeches. I got better at this though. Even though I still wrote out the speeches word for word and had my notes with me when I spoke, I found that I relied less on them.
In the final module of that course I got the award for Best Prepared Speech. This came as a complete and utter surprise! And I was so delighted! The feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction took me by surprise.
Based on the Speechcraft course and buoyed by the award I joined Toastmasters shortly thereafter and have been a proud member ever since.
The speaker I am now compared to the speaker in 1997 are poles apart. The confidence I have now, being able to walk into pretty much any situation and speak without much preparation and being able to control a rowdy audience are just some of the benefits of actively honing this skill.
I am in no way punting Toastmasters (I am not even including a link to the Toastmasters International website :-)) because there are many ways to develop and hone this skill. Toastmasters is just one of them revolving around a very structured educational program with SMART goals.
For me this is what the yin and yang of public speaking is – being nervous yet being able to deliver a talk in front of an audience; feeling afraid of forgetting one’s words and yet putting the notes to one side never to glance at them again; from initially having jelly-legs to owning the speaking area; from never wanting to do a speech ever, to actively seeking out speaking opportunities because I have become hooked on the adrenalin that courses through my veins when I stand in front of an audience to speak.
Wow, wow, wow! It is now the end of the A to Z Challenge for this year. Off course, the final post of this series just has to be…wait for it…(drum-roll please…)…Z is for the Zen of Public Speaking…what else…?
This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge and Twitter id is @AprilA2Z