Would you describe yourself as a reluctant or nervous speaker?
A couple of years ago, this would certainly have described me! When I had to speak in public my mouth would go dry, my hands would shake and my voice would catch in the back of my throat. Not helpful when you’ve been asked to give a presentation to a packed auditorium or deliver that speech at a family event!
Public speaking was something I used to conveniently side-step and avoid where possible. However, as my business grew and developed, I wanted to tackle those nerves, so I could talk about my business with more confidence to more people.
So what did I do?
I didn’t want to invest vast sums of money in intensive (and intimidating) presentation skills courses, so I simply asked the best public speaker I knew how they became so good!
Their answer was surprisingly simple, they said they joined their local Toastmasters Club, Shropshire Speakers, and haven’t looked back.
So, this is precisely what I did too. I attended the first couple of meetings as a guest to see what it was like. The format was structured, but friendly, with opportunities to participate if you wanted to. I really liked the way people could practice their speaking and listening skills in a safe and supportive way, at a pace that suited them.
I have now been part of Toastmasters for two years, a worldwide non-profit educational organisation with over 357,000 members, in 16,600 clubs in 143 countries. The remit of the organisation, since it began in 1924, has been to help people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators and leaders.
Next year I am looking forward to taking part in my first Youth Leadership Programme, which gives teenagers similar opportunities to develop their public speaking skills.
If you no longer want to be a nervous speaker and want to improve your confidence in speaking to an audience or delivering an excellent presentation, please do come along and give Shropshire Speakers a try!
Kay Heald, Vice President Public Relations