All About Toastmasters Public speaking is a tool for personal and professional growth

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PART 4: TRANSFORMING FEAR

BeGes Toastmasters offers this five-part series on public speaking and the benefits of Toastmasters. Toastmasters is a non-profit organization. Guests are welcome to attend any meeting for free. This week’s article is about transforming fear.

What do we fear? A life insurance survey revealed that speaking before a group was our number one fear. Death was number seven. How can an activity that rarely results in loss of life be feared more than death itself? Perhaps Abraham Lincoln answered that question when he said, “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Mastery over fear is a skill that can empower you and transform every area of your life. Once you have identified a fear, there are three steps that you can take to overcome it. Start by finding a structured and supportive environment. A structured program enables us to face fear in bite-sized increments, so that the fear level is reduced to a minimum. A supportive environment decreases your anxiety level and makes overcoming fear fun.

Now that you’ve found the right environment, give yourself a break by abandoning the belief that you have to be perfect. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, and enjoy the process of learning from them.

Finally, the key to overcoming fear is to do the thing you are most afraid to do. Put your traumatized past behind you, and visualize the outcome you want. We succeed when we focus on the benefits we desire, rather than the disasters we fear.

When it comes to public speaking, you’ll find that your fear diminishes when you stop thinking about yourself and get excited about your subject. When you shed any sense of pretense and allow your real self to come through, you will find that your audience is pulling for you. They want you to succeed.

Once you have overcome the fear of public speaking, you are no longer “playing it small.” You will grow in areas of your life that do not have a direct relationship to public speaking: success at work, improved relationships and living your dreams.

Having overcome the fear of public speaking in a safe environment, you are ready to take your new found skill out into the community. With the ability to inform, persuade, and inspire people, you are ready for the ultimate stage of personal growth: Leadership. Next week we will look at the qualities of effective leaders and the doors of opportunity that may open for you when you develop those qualities.

You are invited to attend a FREE WORKSHOP on Friday, Aug. 24, from noon to 1 p.m. on “TRANSFORMING FEAR.” BeGes Toastmasters meets Fridays from noon to 1 p.m. at GeoEngineers, 1101 Fawcett Ave., Ste. 200, Tacoma, WA 98402. For more information, check our website at www.beges.toastmastersclubs.org or call (253) 433-9768.

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