Overcoming My Fear of Public Speaking
Overcoming My Fear of Public Speaking
The JCI UK Public Speaking Academy is back once again at the end of this month and it’s a great way to take your speaking skills to the next level, no matter what the starting point. Public speaking is a valuable skill whether in an auditorium, board meeting, presentation or pitch but it can be a scary prospect.
JCI Southampton member and Public Speaking Academy 2018 graduate Mike Rothon shares his experience of how attending the academy helped his go from public speaking zero to hero.
Public Speaking Panic Zone
Public speaking is something that I have always struggled with, I grew up with the feeling that it would never change and I had grown to accept this. When asked to speak publically I normally accepted out of obligation, this usually led to the familiar routine of spending the next week racked with nerves and anxiety. For me, public speaking provoked actual fear and pushed me into my panic zone stopping me from being able to perform. This meant I would often come across unprepared and miss some key points, as I would forget things in the heat of the moment.
I can still recall awful memories of work presentations not going to plan, I wasn’t happy and work wasn’t happy with my performance either. I discussed it with them all they ever said is that I needed to prepare more failing to see I had a mental block that was too ingrained for more prep to improve my performance.
JCI UK Public Speaking Academy - a Catalyst for Change
I joined JCI this time last year, as for me it offered chances to improve my communication and leadership skills as well as make a difference in the community. JCI was a chance to get a different type of training and in particular, the Public Speaking Academy that I had seen on the JCI UK website.
The weekend helped me move back out of the panic zone and into my learning zone where I could hone my speaking skills. I was re-trained in all aspects of public speaking and presentations for the better. The training focussed on slowly practising the newly taught skills not to overwhelm delegates with long presentations which could take people back to those moments of fear which could halt any progression.
I left the training with a new found confidence and knowledge that I had started to build a foundation that I could work with. I had a real sense that I could be better and could command a room with my speaking. I felt I had found the spark to fire up my ignition to help me progress and write over past experiences. This is when I decided to enter the JCI Public Speaking Competition at the UK National Convention in Doncaster.
Going in at the Deep End
I can still remember the morning before the competition, as we headed together to the JCI UK National Convention together in a minibus. This is when I realised what I had actually signed up for… I was actually going to speak in front of over 100 people. With no slides, no cues… just me, my story and my speaking insecurities.
I felt my hands shake as I got to the front waiting for the judges to finish their marking of the last speaker and let me know when I could begin. I started nervously but delivered my speech much as planned with a few slip-ups, despite this I think I still did well.
This experience cemented the idea that I can speak in front of people. I had delivered my message and key points clearly without any cues in front of a huge room of people.
Going forward I know I can speak in front of a large room of people without freaking out the week before and carry more authority when I speak. I now realise how proud I should be as I look back at the beginning of my journey.
Up to the challenge? Tickets are still available for this year's Public Speaking Academy. Find out more and save your place here.