Only about 10 per cent of the population loves to speak in front of a crowd, the rest of us need a little bit of help.
Members of the Golden Voice Toastmasters spoke to a group of people at the Kicking Horse Country Chamber of Commerce Let’s Do Lunch on June 19 about why it can be so difficult to speak in public, and what you can do about it.
Toastmaster Delanee Jmaiff explained that roughly 10 per cent of the population loves public speaking, roughly 10 per cent are terrified of it, and the other 80 per cent fall somewhere in the middle.
She told the story of her niece in Grade 7, who has such a bad anxiety disorder she still hasn’t spoken a single word in school.
“Some of us don’t have a voice,” said Jmaiff. “It is important for the rest of us to speak for them.”
The fear of public speaking is very primal, which is why it can be so difficult to overcome. But Toastmaster Denise Darbyshire, who has come a long in overcoming her fear since joining the group, talked about some tips that could make it a bit easier.
“Know your topic and practice it,” said Darbyshire. “Keeping on topic will keep people’s attention.”
Consciously making an effort to breath can also make a huge difference. Not only does it give you time to collect your thoughts, it also increases blood flow which calms your nerves, and can even reduce blushing.
The nervous energy, however, will not go away entirely. It can sometimes be useful to channel that energy into gestures. And don’t forget to make eye contact.
If you want to learn more about how to improve your public speaking, check out a Toastmasters meeting. They meet every Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the College of the Rockies.