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  • Writer's pictureClaire Wortley

Public Squeaking or Speaking

I know a lot of people fear Public Speaking and I am one of them so what turned me from a squeaker to a speaker?

Why is Public Speaking so scary? What makes us nervous about it?

Fear of being judged. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of failure. Fear of making a fool of ourselves with so many witnesses. Fear of being inadequate. So I guess the main answer is Fear.

How does that fear manifest?

Leading up to the event we may experience anxiety leading to sleepless nights, comfort eating or losing our appetite. We may develop obsessive behaviours such as re-reading and writing the speech convinced it needs to be improved.

My recent experience

Me being me felt I should be practising the speech every spare moment. The temptation to go over and over my work was strong but I understood that this could lead to over-analysing my work and performance. I have learnt the benefit of letting things be for a while. If I immerse myself totally, I am likely to talk myself out of a good piece of writing and presentation.

I allowed a certain amount of time for preparation then walked away. The only time I have given a talk before was on either the radio or online so I wasn't in the presence of my audience. For all they knew I could've been wearing PJ bottoms and fluffy slippers! So when my local library asked me to give a talk 'in person' I was excited but nervous! I was to share some of my story, tips on wellness and then say a wee bit about my book.

I think it about 4 hours to get my script how I wanted it. I would re and re-read it through. I wanted to provoke emotions, promote understanding and offer hope. It is so easy to become lost in how you think you 'should' write and sound. Every time this happened I went back to the 'why' I was sharing: the reason I started my website and created my book. A few friends joked that I would soon be on breakfast telly but in all honesty the idea doesn't appeal to me. I don't want fame or fortune. I would love a job doing what I am passionate about but this is where I am at just now because this is where I need to be.

So how did it go....

The first thing to celebrate was that people turned up! I live in a small community and was speaking during the day so many were at work. I was and still am chuffed that I had an audience.

Being new to this whole thing, I did use a script. I didn't feel confident to use notes. I am not the best at small talk and so filling any gaps in my talk, if I were to lose my place, wouldn't have come naturally. I spoke clearly and had frequent eye contact with the audience members. I played a recording of a particularly emotive blog without any major hitches and didn't swear or embarrass myself. At the end I received some applause which was amazing. From the feedback, I was surprised to find that what I thought may have been more of a squeak was in fact a successful speech.

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