Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Overcoming fear monsters

There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them. Andre Gide

I went along to my first Toastmasters meeting on Monday night and I have to say that it was a lot of fun. In a scary, out of my comfort zone kind of way. It's one of those things that I know is going to be good for me, but on the other hand I resist.

Toastmasters is a structured meeting type of workshop, where you learn speaking skills by practicing conversation with other people in a meeting type of atmosphere. Members give short speeches and other members evaluate and provide feedback. It is very respectful and feels comfortable - it feels like a safe place to practice public speaking and develop my skills. It is also a great way to meet a whole lot of interesting people. I'll be going back.

Jerry Seinfeld got a big laugh when he joked about a survey that found that the fear of public speaking ranks higher in most people's minds than the fear of death. "In other words," he deadpanned, "at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy."

The Toastmaster principles seem to be that the way to overcome fears is to face up to them, and practice repeatedly, until it becomes second nature and comfortable. Have you ever faced up to your fears? What did you do? Did it work? Any advice gratefully accepted.



prin said...

i've often thought about going to toastmasters. i do know that some of the greatest speakers i have ever heard are members. good luck with it :)

Buckeyebrit said...

Glad to hear you had such a good experience! I totally agree with the "face your fears" logic but it's important to do it in a graded way (but then I am an OT so grading is a way of life lol). You need to challenge yourself enough to give a good shot at success with a substantial dose of fear too!

Helen said...

Thanks for the encouragement Prin - there are some fabulous speakers there that assure me they weren't mumbling at the start.

Hi Buckeyebrit - I love those words - a good shot at success with a substantial dose of fear - very wise.

thanks for your support