Tag Archive for Professional Speaking

Fear of Speaking

The book of lists rates public speaking as what people fear the most. Death is listed as the fifth most feared.
I can easily believe that ranking. Although I now love public speaking and often get paid well to do it, I once struggled more with public speaking than nearly any other area of my business development. Realizing I had a lot of company in the fear I felt, didn’t help at all. I couldn’t imagine how I could possibly get up in front of a group of people, convince them that I had something valuable to say, and speak as though I enjoyed it.
The first time I got up to speak in front of a leads group, one of my worst fears came true. The trouble began when, instead of introducing myself as “Sharyn Abbott from Uniglobe Travel,” I blurted out, “I’m Sharyn Uniglobe from Abbott Travel.” Everyone laughed, and I was miserably embarrassed. Then I realized they weren’t laughing at me (though I wasn’t yet ready to appreciate that it really was funny), they were laughing because it was truly funny. Somehow I managed to get through my presentation and when I sat back down I continued feeling embarrassed over  my mistake in my introduction. I can’t imagine that anyone else thought about it ever again, but I agonized over it for years.
It took about two years to decide that in order to build the kind of business success I wanted, I had to overcome the fear of speaking in front of other professionals. To do this, I knew I had to practice speaking in front of larger groups.

Professional vs. Public Speaking

It took me a long time to understand the difference between public and professional speaking. I showed up at a Toastmasters meeting hoping to get guidance and training so I would feel more confident in speaking to groups.

The first day I attended they asked me to speak about what travel might be like in the year 2000. I was terrified and spoke for five minutes about what space shuttle travel would be like to different planets.

The majority of the group, about 20, were fairly kind, recognizing how nervous I obviously was. But the other half counted how many “uh’s and ah’s” I mumbled,  how many pauses I took and criticized my content.

They did give me  a Toastmaster pin however.

It was embarrassing and more difficult than I could manage at the moment. I left agreeing to return, but knowing I never would.

Then a couple of years later I was invited to the National Speaker’s Association (NSA) in Burlingame. So many of the 85 attendees were proud to announce they were earning $2,500 – $5,000 for keynote speeches. When I asked several of them what they had done to attain that level of professional recognition, not a single one would reveal their secret.

There was a local group in Berkeley run by a member of my Elite Leads group and he asked me to attend as his guest. The group was based on education and sharing what experiences everyone had. I was very comfortable with the group and pleased to be a part of it. But sometime later he ended up moving across the street and asked me to take over. It was fine for awhile, but then it seemed as though everyone wanted to control the group in their own way.

So after a few of the Elite Leads asked if I would help them learn how to get speaking engagements I read an article by the IRS saying there are  entrepreneurs in every industry who earn an average of 40% more than others and when they surveyed the participants they found the reason boiled down to the ones who spoke in the business community were earning 40% more than those who don’t.

I began to create a program to teach entrepreneurs the business of speaking. I called it SpeakEasyTM and determined what would make the difference between all the other groups and what business owners would need to develop their speaking skills.