The QUIET Revolution, Day One: It’s Time to Start Your Year of Speaking Dangerously

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orator 197x300 The QUIET Revolution, Day One: Its Time to Start Your Year of Speaking DangerouslyDo you want to become the best and bravest public speaker you can be?

Here’s your chance, inspired and supported by other readers of this blog.

As many of you read last week, we’re launching the QUIET Revolution, in which readers of this site work together to make concrete changes in our personal lives — changes that will enable us to live more creatively and authentically.

Many of you said that you were interested in public speaking, so we’re hereby kicking off with your own personal Year of Speaking Dangerously. (You can go here to read about mine.)

(For those interested in working on projects other than speaking (for example, writing, another favorite among this blog’s readers), stay tuned. More to come.)

Your assignment for today is easy. All you have to do is is find two Toastmasters clubs near you, and make an appointment to attend each as a guest.  Your only job is to decide which club you like best.

That’s it.

Next Monday, I’ll check in again with your next assignment, and you’ll have a chance to discuss your experiences to date.

Here’s a link to Toastmasters International.  The website explains how the clubs work.  On the left hand side of the home page, there’s a “Find” button that tells you how to find clubs located near you.

And to inspire you, here’s a guest post from Tim Larison, a frequent reader of this blog, on how Toastmasters changed his life. Tim will be available today (Monday, July 11) to chat with you via the comment stream:

I’m a 55 year old small business owner who frequently gives speeches to promote the travel agency my wife and I run.  I enjoy speaking to groups.  I am also an introvert.  Yes, an introvert can enjoy public speaking!  But I wasn’t always comfortable giving presentations.  Here’s my story of how joining Toastmasters changed my life:

In my early years I was TERRIFIED of public speaking.  As a painfully shy teenager, I remember one incident in a public library where I was afraid to check out a book because I would have to talk to the librarian.  It didn’t get much better in college.  I earned good grades, yet avoided any classes that involved giving presentations.  In one class, my teacher said we would have to talk about our class projects during the last session.  Having done well on tests I knew I had a sure “A” in the class without needing to endure this public torture.  I didn’t show up.

After graduating college and entering the business world, though, I started to notice how my lack of speaking skill was negatively affecting my career. Management didn’t know who I was. I had to do something.  I was invited by a co-worker to join a Toastmaster club that met during the lunch hour once a week. I summoned up every ounce of courage I had and joined.  In talking to my Dad about this decision, and telling him how nervous I was, he said, “You can talk to me, can’t you?  Speaking in front of groups is no different.  You’ll see.”

In Toastmasters the first speech is called “the icebreaker”, where you tell your life story in a 7 minute talk.  I couldn’t just talk about myself for 7 minutes!  I needed a diversion.  I came up with a plan to make up newspaper headlines about different milestones of my life.  “The audience will be looking at those headlines, and not at me,” I thought, while I spoke on the story behind each headline.  The speech was a big hit!  With every Toastmaster presentation you receive an oral evaluation from one other member.  My evaluator that day said the speech “was the best icebreaker she had ever heard, and also the most expensive!” (she was right – getting those fake newspaper headlines made was not cheap!)  I also received positive written evaluations from club members.

After that encouraging Toastmaster debut, my confidence slowly grew, speech by speech.  I earned my CTM (“Competent Toastmaster”) certificate after 15 talks.  I earned my ATM (“Able Toastmaster”) certificate after 15 more.  I once entered the club humor speech contest. Much to my surprise I won, and then went on to win a competition against 6 winners from other clubs at the next level.  I have a dry sense of humor which I enjoyed surprising people with in speeches.  I was even asked to give my winning humorous speech to the annual State Toastmaster convention.  There I was in front of a room of 200 people giving my Bachelor Housekeeping talk. And I thought to myself, “you know, this is kind of fun!” I was in Toastmasters a total of 10 years, and joining the organization was one of the best decisions I ever made.  Not only did it help me with prepared speeches, it improved my ability to speak off the cuff (in weekly impromptu speaking sessions called “table topics”) and in giving and receiving feedback in evaluations.

So if you have a fear of public speaking and you are considering joining Toastmasters, I encourage you to take the leap.  Here are a few suggestions from someone who made the slow transformation from fear to confidence in public speaking:

1.  If you are a good writer, you will be a good speaker.  Speaking is all about telling compelling stories.  I already could write well, I just had to get over the nerves of delivering my message to a group.  Your writing skills will be a wonderful aid as you take those first tentative steps in public speaking.

2.  The more you speak, the easier it gets.  The beauty of Toastmasters is that it requires you to give some type of talk in front of your club at EVERY meeting.  While you may give a 7 minute speech once every 3 months or so, there are many lesser roles where you speak in front of the group each week.  The table topics and evaluations I mentioned are two such roles, and even simple tasks like explaining the timing procedures are asked of you.  It is a well designed program to get club members speaking at each meeting in one form or another.

3.  After you get over those initial nerves, keep pushing yourself.  For me I became comfortable speaking in front of my own club after a few speeches.  Those people became my friends.  Speaking in a contest was another matter.  When I won our club contest I thought “oh no – now I have to speak in front of a bunch of strangers at the area contest!”  But i did it, gaining confidence along the way.  Toastmasters gives you the opportunity to visit other clubs and speak, too, which I took advantage of.

4.  Once you become comfortable speaking in front of groups, you won’t suddenly turn into an extrovert.  I’m still an introvert!  There are times when I am in a conversation with a bunch of extroverts where I will hardly say a word.  The way I process information is to think before I speak, and sometimes I find just when I am ready to add my two cents the conversation has moved on to another topic.  But that’s ok.  I’m learning to accept that part of myself.

You know, my Dad turned out to be right about public speaking.  Giving a speech is like a conversation with a friend, only in front of a lot more people.  If you are reading this thinking “Toastmasters worked for him, but I could never do this. I’m just not good at talking in front of an audience” I urge you to reconsider.  Take the risk and join a club near you.  The World is waiting for the gifts you have to share.

========

Tim Larison today frequently gives speeches at a weekly business group he is a part of.  He is also the Colorado director of the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA), and in that role also speaks in front of groups often.  In the past year Tim decided to stretch himself once more by starting a blog where he writes about spirituality and life (www.calmwithin.com)  He’s now taking those first tentative steps in his public writing that remind him of his early days in Toastmasters.

REMINDER: Tim is available today to chat with you via the comment stream.

ALSO: After you’ve completed today’s assignment, PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE to let everyone know via the comment stream below. We are here to encourage each other. Thanks!

 

 


43 Comments »

43 Comments

  1. Uwe Hesse on 11.07.2011 at 09:04 (Reply)

    I have started my own “Speaking Dangerously” program back in 2000 when I decided to become an instructor in the IT branch – which involves a lot of public speaking of course, mostly to an audience of <=16 people, but sometimes to many more.

    It works for me, and I just want to encourage any other introvert to give it a try. As Susan says, this will not magically turn you into an extrovert, but it will probably be very good for your self-confidence – if you manage to cross that line :-)

    1. Alvictor Mack on 08.05.2013 at 16:44 (Reply)

      I personally liked your article on public speaking and being an live long Introvert, it was very inspiring.

  2. Richard on 11.07.2011 at 10:08 (Reply)

    I think this is an excellent idea! I joined a toastmaster club some four years ago. It was really a decision to do something about a lack of confidence in public speaking; I’d always had things I wanted to say but as an introvert with the desire to avoid the spotlight and to stay modest, it was difficult to get the words out! Going to toastmasters has been one of the best things I’ve done; you do make great progress in your speaking abilities (even the impromptu), you learn a lot about yourself and about introversion! You also learn that public speaking can be fun. Like Tim Larison, it is a good idea (when you’re ready) to enter the speech contests to test yourself. The leadership track is also useful as we can put our introverted leadership skills into practice. As introverts taking the world in we’re often more observant than extroverts and this is a useful ability for giving evaluations and can also provide great material for humorous speeches! My toastmaster journey is continuing and I’m looking forward to hearing the experiences of others on this blog.

  3. Marta on 11.07.2011 at 10:23 (Reply)

    This post is amazing! I leave in just a few minutes to visit my second Toastmaster’s meeting, following a very strong intuitive prompting it was time to take the steps needed to hone my public speaking skills once and for all. I am excited to join your journey and know it will open up creativity and opportunities in many lives. My sites encourage people to “get inspired and pass it on”. Taking creative action stimulates powerful results. Thank you for bravely ‘stepping out’ to lead the way!

  4. Susan Cain on 11.07.2011 at 10:37 (Reply)

    I wanted to pass on a question to Tim that a few readers have asked me about. You say: “if you are a good writer, you will be a good speaker.”

    But what about delivery? Doesn’t being a good speaker depend on being able to deliver those well-written stories in a compelling manner?

    Thx, Tim.

  5. Tim Larison on 11.07.2011 at 10:55 (Reply)

    In response to Susan’s question, I get the impression that many introverts on this site ARE good writers (just from reading the comment streams). People will pay more attention to the good content of your speeches than whether you look nervous in my experience.

    When I give presentations today I STILL get the comment sometimes that I look a little nervous. Sometimes I let that bug me (after all these speeches I still look nervous???!!). But then the other day a member of my breakfast business group, a very experienced business man, said to me “I’d much rather listen to someone who has good content in their speeches, even if they appear nervous at times, than a slick speaker who doesn’t have much depth.”

    So the message I tell myself, and I encourage for you, is try not to let comments like “you look nervous” get to you. I’m harder on myself for looking nervous than the audience is. And I know I appear a lot less nervous in giving presentations than I used to be.

  6. Susan Cain on 11.07.2011 at 11:20 (Reply)

    Thx, Tim, that’s really interesting. Do you actually FEEL nervous when you get those comments? I wonder whether you’ve ever watched yourself on video and identified what it is that makes people say that.

    Anyway, that’s a really interesting remark, about people preferring good content to slick speaking. I’ve always found that to be true myself.

    1. Tim Larison on 11.07.2011 at 12:02 (Reply)

      Susan – I think the degree of nervousness I show depends greatly on the TYPE of speech I am giving. For me giving a speech about travel is easy – I know the subject well and I’ve done it many times – so I rarely get the “you look nervous” comments after giving that type of speech (in fact just the opposite – one person told me “I come alive” when I talk about travel compared to my usually more reserved, introverted self, in social situations).

      But if I am giving a different type of speech, then, yes, I’ll probably be more nervous. For example, in my business networking group last year I volunteered to do the “educational tip” to start the meeting each week. This was a 3 to 4 minute educational piece on networking at 7:30 am to a group of 60+ business people. That is was a lot more challenging than talking about travel! And when I first started doing those, I was nervous, but I became more confident the more I did it.

      So I would say even with my Toastmaster experience I am still growing as a speaker, and I look for opportunities to push myself. I recently volunteered to be on a panel for a big travel convention in November, which will probably be the most people I’ve ever spoken in front of. Will I be a little nervous? Probably, but after doing it once I’ll be less nervous the next time. And I’m not letting the possibility I will look nervous stop me from participating.

      Richard had a good tip about evaluations you receive in Toastmasters – a good evaluator can give you a mix of positive and constructive feedback to help with nervousness.

      When you promote your book next year, Susan, do you think you’ll be put in situations that will be challenging (perhaps tv and radio interviews) and different than the type of speaking you’ve done in the past? Or are those situations still easy for you since you will be speaking on a subject you know so well?

      1. Susan Cain on 11.07.2011 at 12:08 (Reply)

        I do think (and hope) I’ll be giving TV and radio interviews. I also feel, at least so far, as if they’ll come naturally. I feel very passionate about the ideas I’m advancing, and I’ve been living with them for the five years I researched and wrote my book, so I’m very centered about the whole thing. So, as you suggest, I feel as if the speaking format matters less than my level of passion and degree of knowledge for the subject. I see this as a blessing in disguise — introverts don’t necessarily enjoy speaking for its own sake, which compels them to speak about (and hopefully, find work in) areas that truly move them.

        1. Richard on 11.07.2011 at 13:22 (Reply)

          Having had a little time to think about this (in true introvert fashion) I wanted to echo what you both – Susan and Tim – have said. Acquiring confidence in public speaking enables our passions, characters and skills to emerge. I particularly identified with the passage on humorous speaking; I found an outlet for my humour to be put to a wider audience and also my analytical skills in evaluation. Also about our passions. We introverts do, of course, have them but need a helping hand to put them across.

  7. Richard on 11.07.2011 at 11:38 (Reply)

    I’ve found that nervousness doesn’t go away (particularly if you speak outside your own club), but because you know that you can speak well and your confidence is greater nerves are not as offputting as they would have been.

    Evaluation is perhaps the most important part of the toastmaster experience and evaluations will usually give you valuable feedback on delivery. If your nervousness is betrayed, for example through excessive pacing (to use one of my own experiences) then a good evaluator will pick that up and offer suggestions to correct it next time. My club recently invested in a camera to offer videoing to members; I still need to pluck up the courage to watch myself though!

    In addition, elements of the toastmaster programme focus on aspects of delivery such as vocal variety, body language, persuasive speaking etc and these can be practised in the confines of a supportive club environment.

  8. Barb on 11.07.2011 at 11:42 (Reply)

    I love this idea of theYear of Speaking Dangerously. I live in a small community. We do have a Toastmasters meeting here but for various reasons, I’m not comfortable going to this one. I just looked and there are about five different meetings about 30-45 minutes away. They say something like “membership eligibility requirements.” I wonder what that means? Does anyone know? I’m trying to decide whether or not I truly have the time to commit to driving, going to the meeting, etc…Thanks for your story, Tim!

    1. Tim Larison on 11.07.2011 at 12:08 (Reply)

      Barb – When checking out Toastmaster clubs I think it is valuable to trust your instincts. Some clubs are better than others, and if one doesn’t feel right don’t join it. When I was in Toastmasters I found the best clubs had a good mix of men and women of different ages. Before you check out the clubs 30 to 45 minutes away I would recommend calling the contact person and ask some questions (how many people usually attend your meetings? what are the eligibility requirements? etc) If a club sounds good then visit to get a better feel for the group. The right one will be worth a 30 to 45 minute drive.

  9. Susan Cain on 11.07.2011 at 11:43 (Reply)

    That’s very useful, Richard — the idea of nerves being permanent but increasingly manageable.

  10. Christy on 11.07.2011 at 12:27 (Reply)

    I’m not interested in public speaking, as such, though I know I will have to do some in the future. (I want to teach in Bible colleges in Europe, though that’s a far different form of public speaking than what we think of as public speaking.) But I’m no longer afraid of it, thanks to a college speech class, a college preaching class, and a seminary preaching class. I don’t much like it, but I can do it and do it well.
    And I found out that precisely what Tim said is true: my writing skills helped my speaking. I can write a jolly good sermon, particularly when I draw on my fiction-writing skills and my love of theology, and having words I know intimately and love helps in the speaking.
    I’ve found I much prefer teaching (in a college setting) to preaching or other speaking. Especially on a higher education level, you’re not expected to be entertaining as you are in preaching and giving speeches. I know how to be *interesting*; I’m a good teacher, as far as I know. But I hate having to be *entertaining.*

  11. Richard on 11.07.2011 at 12:28 (Reply)

    Another interesting point from my own experience when it comes to nervousness is that other people’s perception of you is different from your own. You might have felt nervous but people in the audience could quite easily have perceived you as being confident. This can reinforce your own confidence in subsequent speeches. I would though agree with Tim’s earlier remark about the content being most important; a little nervousness may even win you a bit of sympathy from the audience so long as it doesn’t prevent your speech being compelling / informative / entertaining etc.

    1. Tim Larison on 11.07.2011 at 12:48 (Reply)

      I remember a phrase I first heard in Toastmasters in regards to nervousness and public speaking: “you will still have butterflies, but you can make the butterflies fly in formation”

      Feeling some nervousness can actually be good – it can help energize you to give a more dynamic speech. And I agree with Richard a little nervousness may win you some sympathy from the audience (public speaking is such a common fear among people)

      1. Richard on 11.07.2011 at 13:05 (Reply)

        It’s a good phrase about the butterflies!

        I also agree with you about the nervousness; it’s normally a positive force as it helps you concentrate on your performance.

        Even so, at the end of the day it’s easier to feign confidence than extroversion!

  12. Rhodes Davis on 11.07.2011 at 13:24 (Reply)

    I have enjoyed these articles. A colleague is working to start a Toastmaster’s club in our building to serve our local area and asked me to be a part of it. These articles have provided some insight about a Toastmaster’s meeting.

    I’m an introvert but extremely comfortable with public speaking. I have taken college classes, preached, taught Bible and non-Bible classes, performed weddings and eulogies, performed business presentations, and was on a college speech team. I am more relaxed talking with large groups than one-on-one or at trade show booths, etc. I think the Toastmaster’s idea is great because constant exposure to your fear and knowledge-based skills are keys to becoming comfortable when speaking publicly.

  13. Danielle on 11.07.2011 at 14:46 (Reply)

    I’ll be re-reading my Dale Carnegie Public Speaking manual so as to join all of you psychologically in your quest. It will bring back a lot of good memories while giving me the chance to practice my public speaking skills in my living room. My worst enemy back then was wearing braces (the metalic kind with elastics) so the hardware in my mouth made me trip all over my tongue. So I’ll have to brush up on my vocalizations and will have to try talking more slowly. Once I get going, my brain and my tongue try to compete with one another. It’s feels a lot like walking two energetic dogs who are trying to outrun each other. Crazy, eh!!

  14. Canaan on 11.07.2011 at 17:55 (Reply)

    Great stuff. I consider myself an “ambivert”; quite extraverted sometimes and introverted others. On a scale of one to ten I was an 8 or 9 nervousness-wise when I first started public speaking and the one variable I’d isolate as the most nerve wracking at first was – hearing my own voice projected and amplified: it’s just not natural! I think one of the reasons that speaking publicly again and again sands down the nervousness is that you just get used to hearing your own voice in a projected tamber. I think sometimes at first I wasn’t so nervous at the very start of a speech then when I heard my own voice my heart would pound, palms sweat, chest heave, cheeks flush etc then I would be in trouble. As I got used to it, I would get past that first surge of terror, and then be fine, and eventually that first surge even disappeared. Anyway, I just throw that into the stew here. I think practicing hearing your voice in that weirdly projected public speaking context again and again is the key at least for me. The thing that helped me most was teaching; you just can’t avoid projecting your voice then because you want and need to project your ideas and then again the next class and the next until finally you’re enured. BREAK A LEG EVERYONE.

  15. Danielle on 11.07.2011 at 21:01 (Reply)

    I was just reading my Dale Carnegie Public Speaking manual and a phrase stood out on page 13: “Two minutes before I begin”, said one of my graduates, “I would rather be whipped than start; but two minutes before I finish, I would rather be shot than stop.”

    I can vouch for that, having been through it numerous times some decades ago. It’s a lot like a roller coaster ride. You’re scared out of your wits before you get on but when the ride comes to an end and you have to get off, you run to the counter to get another ticket and race back on for another ride. You get such a rush of adrenaline, it’s almost addictive.

    Trust me. You’ll have the time of your life! You’ll have so much fun, they’ll have to drag you off kicking and screaming.

  16. Susan on 12.07.2011 at 18:12 (Reply)

    Hi, Susan — Just wanted to let you know you inspired me to try something new. I wanted to do a post about your project, but since it’s on public speaking, I decided to do a video post instead of just writing about it.

    It was certainly educational — learned I need to smile more! Here’s the link:
    http://www.theconfidentintrovert.com/2011/07/12/public-speaking-for-introverts-with-video/

    And good luck to everybody participating in your project!

    1. Tim Larison on 12.07.2011 at 18:47 (Reply)

      I enjoyed watching your video blog Susan. Good point (and Susan C brought up something similar) that even experienced introvert speakers are more comfortable when they know the topic well. I find I am less comfortable speaking when I am in a “master of ceremonies” type of role where more impromptu ad-libbing is required.

      Also video blogging is an interesting strategy to work on public speaking skills that I hadn’t considered.

    2. Susan Cain on 12.07.2011 at 21:31 (Reply)

      Awesome video post, thank you so much for sharing! You have a lovely voice, and also seem very comfortable and welcoming.

      I agree with Tim, too, that video blogging does seem a great way to practice. Hmm. Must figure out the technology of that one. It’s going on the to-do list.

      Thx, Susan! I’ll mention this in next week’s post, for those who haven’t gotten this far in the comment stream.

      1. Susan on 13.07.2011 at 09:20 (Reply)

        I have to say it was very worthwhile looking at my earlier takes. I learned a lot in just a few minutes — and you don’t have to worry about an audience!

        I think most laptops have web cams now. I just used the software that came with the computer. I believe you can also use YouTube to tape yourself if you have a web cam. Neither is very fancy, but if you’re practicing, it doesn’t need to be.

  17. Charity on 13.07.2011 at 17:14 (Reply)

    OK, I’m game.

    I first heard about Toastmasters about ten years ago. I thought it sounded interesting, but at the time I convinced myself that public speaking wasn’t necessary for my career (as an editor). Then I had kids, and I figured that as a stay-at-home mom, I didn’t really have much need for improving my public speaking skills. This didn’t make complete sense because the volunteer work I’ve always done requires leading group meetings and speaking to large groups of people, but it seemed a good justification at the time.

    About a month ago we moved cross-country, and I’ve been feeling a little lost as I try to build a social network in my new community. I find it exhausting to talk to so many new people all the time, which, of course, is necessary for making new friends. Reading your post, Susan, I’m starting to think that Toastmasters might be a way to help me feel more comfortable talking to people I don’t know. I’m making arrangements to visit two Toastmasters meetings in the next two weeks. Now I just need to let my husband know my plans so he can watch the kids.

  18. Danielle on 14.07.2011 at 09:40 (Reply)

    I was reading an article I found on assertiveness and just thought I would provide the link (below) in case you might want to read it as well. It’s very informative and also explains how our various styles can be interpreted by other nationalities.

    I wish such a course could be given in high schools to better prepare students for the business world as well as help them in their everyday life.

    http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/?page_id=187

    Assertiveness is something that I have always had difficulty with. I find it a challenge to keep my cool when things get out of hand. I wish I would have had this article way back when I was younger. I think it would have made my life a lot easier.

  19. Caroline Leon on 25.07.2011 at 07:55 (Reply)

    I’m so surprised to see this project on here as I recently set myself the fear-facing challenge of attending a Toastmasters group meeting and I have now been to two meetings, joined as a member and already set a date for my first speech. I am writing about my experiences on my blog: http://www.lifeislimitless.com but I’m delighted to be able to share my experiences of public speaking here as well. My experience to date with my local Toastmasters group has been great – they were warm, welcoming but suitably challenging so as to not let me melt in the background – which is exactly what I need!

    1. Susan Cain on 25.07.2011 at 08:22 (Reply)

      What a great coincidence, Caroline! Every Monday I post about “Quiet Revolution” topics. So stay tuned — later today I’ll do a post to see how people are doing with their public speaking projects. I would love if you would share your experiences!

  20. [...] those of you who have embarked on this site’s collective Year of Speaking Dangerously (in which we’re challenging ourselves to become the best and bravest speakers we can be), this is [...]

  21. [...] have talked myself out of going had I not said I was planning to attend as a part of Susan Cain’s Year of Speaking Dangerously. She is challenging herself and her blog followers to become the best, most authentic speakers they [...]

  22. [...] participation in the women’s salon was my latest foray in my Year of Speaking Dangerously. For those who are joining me by participating in the public speaking part of the QUIET Revolution, please also post a comment on how you’re coming along. And remember, you can join at any [...]

  23. Ralph Bormet on 31.08.2011 at 15:07 (Reply)

    Susan: I am anwering your question about what I would change in my life, if I could do so. I would take more risks, especially with regard to dating. When I moved from Ohio to Florida eons ago, a female friend of mine (whom I had not dated) became upset and asked me not to go. I could not understand her reacation, and ultimately she said, “If you are determined to go, take me with you.” She was about 20 and I was about 27. I refused, though I wondered whether I should have delayed my decision to leave until we had a chance to get to know each other better. I wish I had, despite the fact that I married and (have been happily so) five months after my move. At the time I rejected that friend’s plea no to leave or at least to take her with me, I was afraid of getting invovled with her, precicsely because I liked her very much. I had made a decision some time before that I would rather KEEP her as a friendk, than LOSE her as a girlfriend. Stupid, no? Stupid, yes. Thank God I had the courage to ask my (now) wife to marry me when I did. We’ve been together 36 years.

  24. Tim Larison on 17.02.2012 at 15:50 (Reply)

    (here’s a copy from my blog about a followup to my Toastmaster story I shared here this past summer)

    I am not sure if my blog post encouraged anyone to give Toastmasters a try, but I know of one person it influenced – my son.

    Josh is an introvert like me. For his senior class project he was asked to come up with a proposal that would be a stretch for him. After hearing of the impact Toastmasters had on my life Josh decided to take a similar step. “I often have trouble speaking in front of even a class of people, and I want to overcome that fear,” Josh wrote. “I also know that speech and communication skills are necessary for almost any possible career path that I can enter. In the future, when I need to make a presentation or lead a group of people, I am
    certain that the skills I learn from this project will aid me immensely.”

    Josh found a nearby Toastmaster club, visited a couple of times, and joined right after his 18th birthday. Walking into a club of 20+ adults must have been scary at first, but Josh was warmly welcomed. He got his first taste of speaking in front of the group with a short one minute impromptu speech. That went well, but the big test was to come – the 5 to 7 minute icebreaker speech!

    Josh was nervous the night before the speech. “Write a blog about it,” I told him. “Say exactly what you are feeling before the speech in words, and then right after the speech tell people how it went.” I told him of another introverted high school student, Brittany Wood, who described her Toastmaster experience in her excellent blog The Shyness Project.

    Josh’s first speech was a big success! He came home smiling and telling us how the speech went much better than he thought it would. He received many evaluations with words of encouragement and constructive criticism on how to improve. And Josh did take my suggestion to write about the experience – you can read his before and after first speech thoughts on his Mastering Toastmasters blog.

    “This project is a learning stretch for me because I am in no way comfortable right now speaking in front of a large group of people. I have done (school) presentations and similar speeches, but I have always been nervous beforehand and not satisfied with the end result,” Josh wrote in his class project proposal. “This project will bring me way out of my comfort zone by putting me in front of a group of people that I don’t even know to give speeches to. It will be a hard transition, but I know that in the end my leadership and communication skills will be miles better than they are now.”

    You are well on your way to becoming a good speaker, Josh! And it brings a smile to this Dad’s face to see his son have a positive experience with Toastmasters just like I did 30 years ago.

  25. ZenGuide » Pretend Extrovert on 22.03.2012 at 03:13

    [...] to overcome another barrier that I feel is holding me back and they pointed me to Susan Cain’s “Year of Speaking Dangerously”. Susan Cain is an out and proud introvert who ironically found herself having to do a lot of [...]

  26. Asiimwe David on 03.04.2013 at 14:55 (Reply)

    This website I believe will be of great help to me. Public speaking has been a problem to me,but now am done with fear.Thank you so much

  27. stew on 03.05.2013 at 08:53 (Reply)

    I often have to give seminars and meeting-updates at work and it scares the life out of me. I had some bad experiences at school when I was 12-13 and my approach from the age of 14 to 25 was to avoid university seminars and work presentations/speeches and face the disdain and disappointment of tutors and bosses. To me they were the most scary things I could think of and I spent hours on my own imagining the horror of them – the shaky hands, read face, shaky voice, embarrassment, failure and humiliation. This fed the dread, and magnified my fear, and reinforced the importance of my avoidance behaviour. I didn’t want to give up my career though so eventually I was in a position where I had to do it, or else leave. That was a horrible time.

    I suffered a lot in the weeks running-up to the first presentations I did in my early 20s – I just thought they were an impossibility. I wasn’t sure precisely how they were impossible – or what would happen to me but I just knew it would be the end of the world somehow. Then when I did it, it went ok and I left the room surprised and confused, but also with the biggest amount of relief I have ever felt in my life. That led to me slowly realising that my imagination wasn’t trustworthy and experience contradicted it. I realised that I wouldn’t die or really suffer much through a presentation. Presentations became a bit more of a routine, though still incredibly unpleasant, experience after that and I ended up getting through them by ridiculous amounts of preparation (and suffering hell through the run-up period) but also understanding that my negative thoughts were unlikely to be good predictors of what would happen on the day. I still didn’t really believe I had control but I just had to trust that it would be ok. From more presentations I started to build up a collection of contradictory evidence to hold my negative imagination in check and I kept a list in a notebook (now on a notes-app on my phone) of all the presentations or speaking, that I had done, that I could use in periods of doubt, to contradict my imagination’s insistence that I was bound to fail.

    One thing I have found that is that I am much happier doing a presentation to 15 people if I have a much bigger and scarier one on the horizon. I would usually avoid and dread even a small presentation, but if I know I have a much bigger one in the future I stop worrying about the smaller one and can almost breeze through it. If the small one is a success I have more evidence to refer back to when the butterflies start to fly. It is a wonderful virtuous circle. Or if my presentation is after someone elses I will sometimes ask a question in theirs, or make an observation about the connection with my presentation, so that I have broken the ice a bit and tested my voice.

    I found some of the advice in other comments really useful.

  28. Sergio on 04.06.2013 at 05:29 (Reply)

    I treasure the details on your website. Appreciate
    it!

  29. Molly on 12.06.2013 at 13:09 (Reply)

    What are the next steps in ‘The Year of Speaking Dangerously’?
    Anyway, I went to my first TM meeting. It was nice, I had to face everyone and say what i liked about the meeting. Even that was nervewracking for me. They gave me instructions for my icebreaker speech in case I join. I was nervous at the end of the meeting when everyone talked to each other but I had no one to talk to so I hurried out the door. Evaluations scare me too, but I know they’d be helpful. I think it’d help me personally and professionally, it’s just scary.

  30. Louis Vuitton Shoes on 13.06.2013 at 08:42 (Reply)

    Wow! Finally I got a web site from where I be capable of in fact get helpful information regarding my study and knowledge.

  31. conseil maquillage on 05.07.2013 at 09:44 (Reply)

    What’s up to every one, the contents existing at this web page are really remarkable for people experience, well, keep up the nice work fellows.

  32. TT Skyline Exhibits on 12.12.2013 at 16:02 (Reply)

    Cool post. Public speaking scares a lot of people, but it does not have to be nearly as hard as you think it is. Getting introverts in to the public speaking arena will be huge because introverts can make a difference.

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