My Speaking Journey

I’m reading on my iPad.

The book is called Ultralearning.

I’m amazed at some of the stories of how quickly people are learning and the level of commitment it takes to do that.

Then my eyes drink in the story of a guy who in 7 months went from novice public speaker to the finals of Toastmasters World Championship of public speaking. 

I’m hooked!

I see he has a company coaching public speaking and I search them out

Fortunately, I might even say it was destiny… they are running a free speaking workshop in a a few minutes.

I sign up.

My gut is full of butterflies as I sign on to the Zoom session. Anxiety!

Soon I’m playing speaking games.

God I suck at this!

(But inside somewhere a voice states, “But I could get good at this!”)

Here’s the thing.

I’ve had many opportunities and situations where I did public speaking.

It was ALWAYS an anxiety ridden, uncomfortable experience.

See, I was an only kid, growing up with alcoholic parents.

I never knew how anything I said would be responded to!

One time praise, the next derision, and shaming; the next - laughing along, the next - hate filled put downs.

I grew up being less and less willing or able to share my true self.

I hid. I didn’t want to be seen.

I remember walking across the sports field to my Junior High School each morning, filled with incessant internal dialog and doubts.

“Will this be a good day or a bad day? Who will bully me today? How bad will I blush?”


Anytime I felt like the limelight was turned on me; simply a girl saying, “Hi”, or a question from a teacher, etc… I would turn bright, hot red.

Blushing constantly, uncomfortably, uncontrollably.

Speaking in front of the class was brutal. I avoided it.

As I grew older I knew that public speaking was a necessary part of being a successful business person.

It still sucked and I still blushed every time. And my self consciousness not only made it bad for me, it made my speaking stilted, and shaky.


I developed a strategy of over preparing; of trying my best if I had a presentation to give, or meeting to chair that I had practiced over and over what to say.

This meant days prior of preparation. Anxiety ridden the whole time.

What if I forgot my plan? What if I missed something?

Again self-torture, my old friend.

Bottom line, public speaking was my nemesis.

I knew it would make a massive difference in my work life, in all of my life but I was stuck, limited by the mental feels prison I had constructed for myself.

I did Toastmasters.

I did other public speaking seminars and courses. I read the books!

(You cannot learn how to speak from a book!)

I still was not confident in my ability to speak and present well.

I kept avoiding public speaking as much as I could.

This was different. It was a revelation!

I remember feeling exhilarated after the speaking coaching session; I actually had fun!

Speaking in front of other people! Fuck me!

I kept going. With consistent practice and good coaching, I started to get better.

More willing to be seen.

More assured and able to deal with pressure.

To deal with the inevitable energy increase that comes along with doing anything I care about.

I recall when I was invited to become a coach!

That was a surreal moment. Me? Really??

I trained to become a coach; a public speaking coach.

I’ve coached hundreds of folks now. From 33 countries and counting.

Somewhere along the path, I’ve become a confident, better public speaker.

All it took was practice, coaching and experience.

I can speak pretty much anywhere, anytime about anything.

Even off the cuff.

With NO preparation.

I can lose myself in a speech. I really enjoy speaking.

What I know from experience now is that becoming a better, more confident speaker is doable.

It can actually be fun!

Especially if it’s done through play.

What’s generally taught for public speaking, in my opinion and experience - focuses on the symptoms.

Be expressive! Take pauses! Move around! See the audience in their underwear! Clench your butt cheeks!

Some of these things are the unplanned result of confident speaking.

Some are just stupid! Not effective.

Good speaking is not about being an actor.

It’s really about being yourself, fully and completely.

In front of others.

It requires an identity change.

Not a butt cheek clench!!

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