A few years ago, I joined Toastmasters, which is an international public speaking organization dedicated to helping its members improve their communication and leadership skills.
A someone who has always been shy and who could never comfortably speak in front of a group, (*group being defined as anyone other than myself) I realized that it was time to finally face my fear head on, deal with it and overcome it.
When I attended my first Toastmasters meeting, I knew that this was what I needed to do.
I wound up joining a corporate club in my neighborhood that opened its membership to the community. After being out of the workforce for so long, I wanted to gradually ease my way back into a professional setting.
This seemed like a good way to start.
Preparing and presenting speeches is a main part of Toastmasters.
Honestly, it wasn’t easy for me to get up and speak to a group of strangers.
However, I discovered that when I conversed with the audience as if I was talking to my close personal friends, I became very comfortable and relaxed.
As a result, the audience appeared attentive and interested in what I had to say. What surprised me the most was how much I actually came to enjoy the meetings. That completely blew me away.
Every time I addressed a group, I began to understand what Sally Fields felt like when she said, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now you really like me! You like me, you really like me,” during her acceptance speech for winning the Oscar for Leading Actress in 1985 for Places in the Heart.
Public speaking had become my “hypothetical” drug of choice. I began to need my regular fix of feeling accepted, admired and appreciated for what I had to say.
It became very addicting.