Why does it happen to me? Why do I freeze, and my throat dries and tightens? I have no real control over what I want to say and the way I deliver my thoughts in public. Two years ago I was asked to speak to a group of networking businesswomen about my work. I prepared my speech and had it written out, and had even practised it. But, boy, was I awful! And then, of course, the confident speakers did their bit too and the words flowed so effortless. So natural. So controlled and at ease.
Again, I ask, why does it happen to me? I was soon to find out when an enterprising woman gave me her business card and suggested I call her for coaching. At Â£70 an hour, it wasn’t cheap, but it was a necessity after shaming myself so publicly. She started by telling me how charming and attractive I was, how good I am at my business, but that I did not do myself any favours. She was right. And I called the next day, almost gratefully.
One reason for my difficulty, she explained, could be that I am the middle of four children (the third, but I narrowly missed being second by my twin brother being born half an hour earlier). It seems siblings in the middle struggle with public speaking, unlike the first born who has to take charge. She suggested I deepen my voice to be taken more seriously and advised me on body movements I should adopt. I understood everything she said, it all made sense, it seems now I just need to practise, and practise, and practise, and practise.
My guardian angel had already taken me under her wing and at the end of last year I was reunited me with my dear friend Chrissie who I have not seen for many years. She had joined Cambridge Toastmasters Club with her partner Hector. They took me along to a meeting at which I simply observed, andeveryone made it look so easy. The people were fun and sparky – as well as very clever. They each have their own style, some over the top, others restrained and hushlike, some very composed – but they all seemed to be enjoying themselves. I still hesitated, out of fear, of taking it a step further. Until yesterday…..
Having attended a workshop yesterday morning on achieving goals, I wrote down that I would attend Cambridge Toastmasters last night, that I would not put it off any longer. The fear was still there, only I was not going to let it get the better of me. Just to make sure I did not back out, Paul McKenna was on Richard and Judy talking about confidence and public speaking. Hey, I do like that man, he deserves to be a millionnaire. And yes, I ordered his book. I still forgot his advice and all the golden tips I reminded myself about. But there’s always a next time, and after that another chance too, until one day, it will fall into place.
I’m going to stand in front of the mirror now and see if I can improve on my maiden speech. And many thanks to Geoff Jones, another first timer (only much better and bolder than me), but also a blogger extraordinare who told me to blog it all down – this is my first attempt, hope it is ok.
Well done, twice over, Ellee both for your brilliant maiden speech and also for your maiden blog entry. Can I be the first to welcome you to the blogosphere.
In the spirit of Toastmasters I will offer my improvement suggestions in the centre! In blogging its cool to make hyperlinks to anyone or any subject. So in your article you could link to me http://www.geoffjones.com and Toastmasters http://www.cambridge-speakers.org.uk/ and the Paul Mckenna book (use the Amazon webpage with it on). To do this. (a)Highlight the text eg Geoff Jones by moving the cursor to the end of the word – hold the right mouse button down and move back to the start of the text. Release the button (b)click on the little symbol with a chain link on it, enter the url (eg http://www.geoffjones.com) you can copy and paste it in!. Then click OK. Voila!
Look forward to your next post!