by Laura Marinescu, Guest Blogger
Published at 2017-05-03
Standing up and standing out is easier than you may think!
Picture this scene: You are speaking confidently in front of forty people in your company, delivering a special presentation. Your heart is beating fast, but as you scan the audience, you see smiles and looks of appreciation on the faces of your colleagues. You know all is going very well; you feel confident, proud, appreciated, and skilled.
Now, how close is that to the truth? In reality, fear of public speaking is very common, and can really hold you back in many business settings.
Have you ever thought about how your fear of public speaking may be affecting your career goals? Is this fear getting in the way of you achieving better results or fulfilling your dreams? Have you noticed other colleagues and friends progressing towards their goals, while you are suffering in silence due to your fear of public speaking?
If you’ve decided you want to overcome your fear, gain confidence, and improve your public speaking skills, one option is to join the local club of Toastmasters International. This organization is very beginner-friendly and has two tracks to success: a communication track and a leadership track. No matter what track you choose, you’ll find a positive, friendly, and helpful setting where everybody is welcome.
Honestly, I never really thought about joining a Toastmasters club until last year, when I decided it was time to develop my speaking skills. As an author of motivational books, part of my job is to market my wisdom and advice, and speak in front of different audiences. I knew that if I didn’t get over my fear, it would hinder my career trajectory and success.
I found a midtown Toastmasters group with a schedule that fit my own, and soon the day of my first meeting rolled around. I entered the building, which was spacious and featured luxurious old-style architecture. I walked in to the meeting room, a long hall with a big U-shaped table, perfectly fitted for the purpose. People were smiling all around and the meeting started right on time.
I sat at the back of the room, just to observe. During the meeting, I heard people laughing loudly in support of the people speaking, and at the end I heard encouraging evaluations of the prepared speeches. It was such a friendly and encouraging atmosphere, and I made my decision to join the club right then!
After few months, the results I saw exceeded my expectations. I can tell you that I saw improvement almost immediately — I became more organized in my speech-writing, I learned to include more body gestures, and I started to persuade my audiences with confidence.
But the most important effect had yet to unfold.
After the frightening feelings that I, an immigrant with limited English vocabulary and a strong Romanian accent, experienced at my first meeting, my fear of speaking in front of an English-speaking audience decreased considerably. I also discovered that I could reach my goals, and then my confidence skyrocketed! I knew that I really could pursue my dream of a successful motivational speaking career.
My experience with the Toastmasters was going great, and I dedicated a lot of effort to what I was doing. I worked hard, delivering at least one prepared speech every month, and actively assumed other organizational roles as often as possible, almost weekly. All the speeches I prepared were about motivational, inspirational subjects, things I am passionate about. I prepared speeches on various topics such as physical exercise and its benefits, finding the best partner for you, and the importance of thinking positively.
To my surprise, in the process of developing my speaking skills I realized I transformed the “teaching” motivational speeches into more persuasive inspirational speeches. Even more surprising, my Toastmasters club members started quoting my words of advice.
Along the way, I also realized that the process of putting together the prepared speeches and the other meeting roles I assumed often helped me develop other skills, such as my research, writing, and storytelling skills. I improved my public speaking skills, but also learned new tricks and techniques for crafting great content to speak about.
But you know how it is when you are excited about recent achievements and improvements, and feel they are recognized by your peers ... you want even more! So, after a couple of months with Toastmasters, I wanted to grow my skills and challenge myself even more. To do this, I started visiting and speaking at other Toastmasters meetings as a guest speaker. At every single meeting, I found the same positive environments, nice people, and lots of helpful feedback.
Thanks to the help and encouragement I got from my fellow Toastmasters club members, I can gratefully say I have made great strides in overcoming my fears of public speaking with my strong Romanian accent and limited vocabulary in front of diverse audiences. In fact, my fear has decreased significantly.
One of the best tangible results of the confidence and skills I earned during my first year of experience as a member of Toastmasters is that I can now proudly say I have launched my own website and YouTube channel. Thanks to the Toastmasters, I have already come so far and learned so much, and with the launch of my channel and website, my fear of public speaking is no longer a roadblock on my path to success!
I hope you had fun in reading my blog and found a little inspiration in my story that will help you meet your own personal challenges. I challenge you to start taking steps immediately to improve your public speaking skills, and with your newfound confidence, exceed your own expectations and reach your goals.
Looking for a dose of inspiration and challenge? Please visit me online – anytime!
My YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkEfO4zJKbk
My website: http://www.greatwithinyou.com/
My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/greatwithinyou/
In regards to the references I made above about being an author: I have written a motivational book that offers inspirational tips and techniques to help you conquer challenges in different areas of your life so that you can meet your goals and flourish. It was professionally edited by The Editing Company, and will soon be published. Follow me on Facebook for more information.
Laura Marinescu is an inspirational speaker and author.