Speak Up!

A friend of mine at church has been after me to join Toastmasters. He knows that I struggle with public speaking and how that hinders some of my involvement in church. He also is aware of something that I hadn’t thought about until very recently: in order to be a recognized name in the field of writing, one also must be a decent public speaker.

Self-promotion is the name of the game. Yes, even though we writers may say it is about the message in our writing (which, of course, it is) no one will “get it” if they don’t hear about us.

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter—these are certainly tools to accomplish the same thing. But none of these, alone, will accomplish what “in person”, face-to-face contact will do. Whether it is speaking at a critique group, local writing club or writing conference, our spoken words are powerful ways to connect to others.

There’s just nothing like seeing—and hearing—a confident speaker in person. It starts with the self-confidence from within. That self-confidence is built by years of experience in snatching up speaking opportunities wherever, and whenever, they come along. If we don’t, we may very well be giving up our opportunity to be heard via our writing, also.

So, we have to get over our insecurities and fear of public speaking by building our confidence in doing exactly the very thing we are most afraid of. If a public speaking group like Toastmasters can help, then I’m going to give it a try. Go out on a limb. Push myself to my most uncomfortable limit.

The problem is, even while I write these words, I can feel my heart rate escalating. I feel the all-too-familiar hives creeping up toward my neck—and I haven’t even left the house, yet!

In one of my earlier blogs I stated that this fear of public speaking could be circumvented by writing, instead. That was so naive on my part. You can run, but you can’t hide. You can avoid it for years, but if we are honest with ourselves, it can actually feel good to face our fears. I suggest we get out there and do something about it.

There’s a Toastmaster’s group that meets twice a month at our community clubhouse. I know this because I jotted down the place and time on my desk calendar a few months ago. My note to myself to contact them stares me in the face each time I sit down at the computer. I want to call, but…

There are opportunities to speak at schools, public libraries, even bookstores. I am missing out on them because I haven’t taken the first step toward facing my fear of public speaking. I need to get started by taking the first step, in a series of steps, and call the number I scribbled down months ago.

I can start. So can you. We cannot make a difference in the world if we are not able to articulate our message, both in written and spoken speech.

We’ve come too far to quit, now. We still have so much to say!

Let’s blurt it out—shout it out!

This time, don’t pick up the pen. Grab your telephone, instead, and dial the number for a public speaking self-help group in your area. After that, send a comment sharing what you’ve found helpful in your own life.




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