Rumour has it that people fear public speaking more than death. Well if you just look at it from the angle that if you were faced with death there is only one winner and that’s the guy in the cloak, whereas a few minutes of spilling your heart out about something you love or even know very little about will only end in either overwhelming joy or at worst a little red faced, you certainly won’t be dragged off to be buried.
If you think about the world’s political and business leaders their public speaking skills are core to their ability to get people to follow them, respect their ideas and trust them. Good public speaking skills are important to lead people to inspire and motivate them to be better and so on. You’re not going to get the best out of people by sending the odd email or phone call.
It calls for a good leader to be able to stand up and effectively present a country’s aims, a company’s successes or even pending failure. I found it very easy to speak to people in my business but when put in front of people I didn’t know very well or asked to speak on a topic I wasn’t confident with this caused me great stress and anxiety.
But this all changed for me when I attended a JCI Presenter course hosted by JCI Sheffield in February 2011. I would never have thought that a one day course could have changed my thought processes and increased my confidence to take part in public speaking, not in a million years. JCI Presenter is fundamentally about making presentations which obviously involves you speaking to people.
The two trainers Emma Eastwood and Adam Woodhall both from JCI Leeds made everyone feel comfortable and encouraged an amazing openness and trust between delegates, an environment that allowed everyone to participate and provide honest feedback to each other so that all those present could practice public speaking and quickly received help with areas that could be improved.
It was like a light bulb moment for me. Its not that I’ve suddenly become a fantastic public speaker it is just that I’m not afraid of public speaking and I understand how to put something together and speak about it better than ever before. Not that this worked for me recently whilst taking part in the JCI European Public Speaking final in Braunschweig, Germany in June. I lost out to a great speaker Ola Noren of JCI Norway, but the experience of taking part in such an important competition was fantastic and it would never have happened if it wasn’t for JCI.
The funniest thing I experienced about public speaking was after I did my first speech in Bradford after my JCI Presenter training to an audience of about 60 people from the education and business community on the topic of enterprise activities in schools immediately afterwards I just wanted to laugh my head off because I was so nervous. I believed I had delivered the speech just like I wanted to, but what I think isn’t important it is the feedback of the audience that counts. I did receive some wonderful feedback directly from those present and indirectly through others who had heard about my speech. From this I was invited to speak at other events in the city.
We’re all different in our abilities but the lessons I learned were you have to be willing to do it. Look out for speaking opportunities and volunteer (practice makes perfect). Don’t take on anything too big too quickly 3-5 minutes building up as you get more confidence and experience and very importantly make time to plan and rehearse material that you’re not confident with.
In September JCI Leeds are hosting JCI Yorkshire’s Regional Public Speaking Competition CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO and in October JCI Bradfordare hosting JCI Yorkshire’s Regional Debating Competition CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO
On reflection if I had not been a member of JCI Bradford I don’t think I would have ever spoke in public and this may have negatively impacted on my career…so my final lesson to pass on is join JCI in your local area and use the opportunities within the organisation to challenge yourself and be better.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Philip Cavalier-Lumley