Everyone hears about being nervous when speaking, and when you overcome it, you
become confident and very successful.
What you dont hear from successful speakers is about the journey itself.
For example, when I started in the field of speaking, I was a corporate employee.
As a project engineer, I had to develop concepts and designs to solve problems within the plant.
I was good at this and yet my career progress was slow because I simply couldnt speak well,
and I needed to present my proposals to obtain funding.
I would become nervous, tongue tied and confused.
So when I started my public speaking career I was so scared and terrified, that even the
thought of being in front of a group of people, made me feel physically sick, and would
make my heart race so much, I thought I was having a heart attack.
Clearly, I didnt want to go through my life like that so I did some training and got ready
for my Maiden speech.
With this speech I was competing for a prestigious Silver Cup and I was excited because
I thought I was going to win it.
I walked out onto the stage in front of 200 people and arrived at the podium.
Suddenly my legs started to shake so much I thought I was going to fall down.
So I grabbed the lectern, which also began to shake, and then, at that moment, the butterflies
in my stomach turned into dive-bombers and I started to feel sick.
While shaking the lectern so much, I watched with horror, as my notes slid onto the floor.
In total confusion now, I decide to start my speech without picking up the notes.
My voice quavered as I stated my name, and then my mind went completely blank.
After what seemed an eternity, I grabbed my notes from the floor and fled the stage.
All I achieved that day was to let people know who I was and that I was one pathetic speaker.
Needless to say , I didnt get the prize or even a polite or sympathetic applause from the audience.
It was such a horrifying experience that I had to make a decision to quit or do something about it.
(I was unable to get into the witness protection program to lose my identity!)
Well I studied, practised and used everything that I write about in my book and then some
12 months later, I had to give a speech on behalf of my company.
Now this was a seriously major important speech for the company and me.
If I didnt do a brilliant job, my career would finish, the company would suffer and I reckon
I would have been out of a job.
That would mean, a massive change in lifestyle for my family, changing schools, changing
houses and even putting my food supply at risk..
So as I walked to the Podium this time I could feel this huge pressure bearing down on me.
And do you know?
I was confident, created humour and had them laughing, created pathos so they could feel
sad, lifted them with excitement, spoke a very clear message, had them in the palm of my hand
and when I finished ,they stood up to applaud.
Pretty good eh?
Oh yes, I got promoted and realised that day, that being a great public speaker helps you make
more money, no matter what your job is.
So what made the difference?
What transformed me from bumbling idiot to charismatic speaker?
And could anybody do the same?
Clearly, the answer is yes, if they went through all the stuff they I had.
Why am I qualified to say this?
Because it is based upon my learnings, my studies, my experiments, good and bad, and
most importantly, on my real life, in the fire, under the hammer, experience.
And then I even wrote my own book on how to overcome the Fear of Public Speaking!
As Chairman of the Public Speaking Group at the Australian Institute of Management I have
coached and helped many people who at the beginning of the year , could not even say their
name, and by the end of the year, had become articulate and confident speakers.
So overcoming the fear and building the skills, step by step, not only transforms your
presentation skills, it builds your confidence in all parts of your life.
And isnt that a good enough reason to start!