By guest blogger, Scott Emmett. Scott is a client of Accent On Business.
I don’t think I’m going to like this, I said to myself. I was having one of my early sessions with Ellen Dunnigan, my newly acquired speech coach. We were just the two of us in a room and she wanted me to give a speech that was going to push me out of my comfort zone. I did not like this one bit. No sir, not one bit. Told her so and further informed her that I was not ready for this. She just sat there and stared at me. Did not have any choice but to suck it up and get on with it. It was not one of my better experiences but, at the end of the day, I got past what proved to be one of the larger hurdles I would face as a public speaker. Had I not stood up and faced that discomfort, I would certainly not have died but I would have shut the door on a whole new phase of my life.
I talk real fast (I had to propose marriage twice) and that has made me self-conscious when speaking beyond one on one. When I started speaking monthly at a local networking event, I had to face that trait and get over it. I also had to get past the “fear” of public speaking that had developed and then covered me like a wet blanket. Certainly not a stranger to public speaking, I had received a “Competent Toastmaster” certificate back in the late 80’s. But since then, bad habits crept in, cadence sped up (I joked that my mind worked so fast my mouth couldn’t keep up), and confidence lost.
So now I found myself speaking to 40+ people and scared to death. Actually forgot what I wanted to say! I don’t remember what came out but something went ok as I still talk to that same group (which has grown into the 70’s) and they have yet to run me off.
I guess this is the part where I tell you how to get out of your comfort zone. Well, I suppose we all deal with it in different ways and tricks. In my own case, I had a lot of discussions with myself that went something like this:
Self: “You can’t do this. It’s too hard. You’ll look stupid when you forget something.” Other self; shutup.
Self; “I won’t shut up, You know I’m right. Why do you put yourself through this? You’re going to make a fool of yourself.”
Other self: “Oh, and what we have been doing has worked out pretty well has it? Go away.”
Self: “Ok, it’s your funeral.”
Something like that went through my head during that first session with Ellen. We have had other discussions but they have been less and less heated as I have grown in confidence. He doesn’t bother me much anymore. He’s probably embarrassed that I was right all along.