Are you comfortable in front of people, or does the idea of public speaking make you want to hide in the bathroom? Why?
Let me take you back in time. Back to a simpler time. The year was 1995. I had just declared my major at Southwest State University as Radio/Television Broadcasting. If you know anything about these professions they require a well practiced speaking voice and the comfort of speaking in front of either large groups of people, or at least knowing that thousands of people may be listening or watching.
My friends at the time always told me that my facial expressions showed that I should have gone deeper into the television side, but I chose radio broadcasting. Along with that major was a minimum of four classes of speech. This did not sit well with my stomach at first. Even a class of twelve people made my stomach tie in knots and my anxiety go through the roof!! It should come as no surprise that I dropped out of the major, and the school in 1996. I just wasn’t ready and I had just married, so it was time to become a family man and take care of my bride.
Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans and sometimes it circles back around on you. After my marriage split in 1997 I worked for a year in the town we lived in and where I had gone to college. Enough was enough! I needed new scenery!
So, in June of 1998 I moved to the Twin Cities to pursue a degree in Radio Broadcasting. Still wasn’t ready! Public speaking still made me so nervous and it was decided I needed to leave the school for health reasons.
Fast forward to 2002. Another opportunity for Radio Broadcasting from Brown College came about. The best opportunities keep on knocking, don’t they? Finally ready to go to school and complete it, but there was TWO PUBLIC SPEAKING CLASSES PER QUARTER!!! Yes, the butterflies in the stomach, red face, and absolute stuttering nervousness was there when I began my classes in 2002– for about a week!
I had a professor who had serious faith in my abilities, I had a few professors who actually believed in me. And they all helped me get over my fear of public speaking. They knew that my abilities to speak and influence others through the medium of radio could be life-changing, for me and the world!
They told me the key was to speak as often as possible, no matter how many people were listening. I began singing and talking in the car, I began singing karaoke, I began having conversations with strangers. Low and behold, the next week I got up to present my speech and no nerves! Practice makes perfect. My advice is anything you wish to do well, make opportunities to practice it.