Public Speaking…

How about one of those days where you cannot find any motivation to do anything, but you know you have to draw it from somewhere?
I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there, so I figured I might tell you a story today.

When I was at primary school we used to have different houses (kind of like Harry Potter but not really) and you could earn points for your house by doing certain things. One of the things that we had to do was public speaking. Who ever gave the best talk/ speech would be put through to the next round until a winner was selected. After careful thought I decided to talk about snoring, specifically how much my parents snored, mainly because I found it hilarious.

Turned out that on the day in front of about 30 kids in my class the only person who would find my story about snoring funny would be me. I totally bombed, I didn’t earn any points for my house; more importantly I couldn’t understand why some people were better at speaking than others. I was truly scarred for life and It was at that point that I joined the majority of the world in developing a fear of public speaking or Glossophobia.

Fast forward a few years and I landed a job at Virgin Active as a Fitness Coach.

Part of my job is to run classes and talk to large groups of people. I remember running my first abs class to about 20 members; I felt like I bombed just as badly as my first public speaking engagement as a child. All these blank faces looking at me like I had just crawled out from underneath a rock. It was one of those moments where you look around and wish the ground would just swallow you up in an instant.

After that I went on a training course as part of my induction process and at the end of the course there was an assessment delivering a fitness class to people that I didnt know. The anticipation drove me bananas, I knew that the time would come where I would have to be assessed in running a class to a group of people. I spent the two days on the course trying to figure out how best to prepare for the third and final day.

I didn’t really know what to do or how to combat my fear of public speaking, plus I had to demonstrate movement and get my point across in a limited time whilst being motivating and mindful of people who are less able than others in exercise. Pfff, easy task right?

I went online and bought different audio books which I thought would hold the key to success in public speaking:

  1. How to get your point across in 30 seconds or less
  2. Crucial conversations 
  3. Public speaking hypnosis 

All three books were great and I listened to them ahead of my final day – the hypnosis felt very soothing albeit I really don’t think anything happened because I was shaking like a leaf when I stepped into the room for the assessment. I was as ready as I was ever going to be and I got through it.

At the end of the day the only thing that helped me to become more confident in talking to and coaching large groups of people was, well, talking to and coaching large groups of people.

The best way for me to learn was to dive in head first and remember that I already knew how to swim, I just had to trust myself.

I still get nervous before talking to new people these days, I think what scares me the most is fear of rejection by the people who are listening. I think that is something a lot of people are petrified of.

At some point I guess you’ve got to just get out of bed, find out what scares you and go after it with all your heart. Im not suggesting you go and hugs spiders or stand on the edge of tall buildings; but in a professional situation and especially in life we are always going to have to do things that scare us. Just accept the challenges you are going to face this week and you’ll find out that you are more capable than you thought you were when you woke up this morning!

Have a great week ahead!

Stay Strong and Keep Moving.


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