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Getting Over Public Speaking Fears

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Martha Childers, Government Documents Librarian

According to Psychology Today, surveys show that we humans fear public speaking more than anything else, even death.

Toastmasters was a good first step for me in gaining a comfort level with public speaking.

Some years ago, I decided to join Toastmasters. (Visit the Toastmaster’s site to find out more about the organization.) At the time, I lived in San Diego. The group that met closest to my office was made up of attorneys. They were exacting and critical – too critical for me!

I found another group where almost everyone was from one company. They worked together daily, so they gave only praise. (In Toastmasters, this is known as white-washing.)

Now I knew that I needed some criticism, but lots of praise. I searched for yet another club and found one that turned out to be the perfect combination of praise and criticism for me. Once I moved to Kansas City, an excellent trainer for the Mid-America Library Alliance recommended a club. It provided the perfect combination of criticism and praise.

The Club Experience helped me get over my public speaking fears.

At first every speech was memorized and delivered verbatim. After learning to structure a speech, it was possible for me to give a presentation with a few notes. Then, fortunately, I learned to move my body and hands while delivering the speech. Having learned to speak French, it was just about perfect to use the hand movements used by the French.

One year into the group, the president even mentioned that my deliveries changed from catatonic to someone with movement!

Today, public speaking is fun for me.

It’s exhilarating to stand before a crowd and give them information that they need and want.

When you need a speaker for your group, ask me. Or, if you’d like to be a better speaker, seek out a Toastmaster’s group that fits your personality.

Want to talk? Make an appointment with me.

photo credit: Federal Depository Library Program

Author: Martha Childers

Martha Childers, EdS, LPC is a multicultural psychotherapist specializing in couples, grief and caregiver stress. Martha is a licensed professional counselor in Missouri and Kansas. She received her masters and education specialist degrees in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She practiced Zen through a variety of Japanese traditional arts for 3-1/2 years. Since that time, mindfulness has been an integral part of her life. Her interest in human nature, beliefs, and life styles led her to become a counselor.

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