Not so long ago, when I was still very much a “man of a few words” in public, I frequently found myself in conflict with myself whenever I found deep within me, a deep urge to speak and share my thoughts.
I knew my topic and I had done my research. I had read up on the the topic and similar subjects before. And then it was – an opportunity to share my knowledge, expertise, present my value and fill the still, silent and awkward atmosphere with the beautiful sound of my voice. I yearned to speak. Unforuntately, more often than not, I didn’t.
As my tutor’s eyes circled the class in search of a willing soul to break the silence, I was quietly seated in my seat hoping to be picked.
Now as fate would have it (and you guessed it), I was (FREQUENTLY) – overlooked. The result of my lost chance to share my ideas generated frustration and disappointment. And they were compounded whenever my thoughts and insights were shared by either my tutor or echoed by a another classmate. It wasn’t so much about the credit. But what really pained me was my needless fear of making a fool of myself in front of the class really made me feel like fool to myself!
Then one day, everything changed.
I decided to seize the initiative whenever the opporunity arose and sought voice my ideas and opinions as answers to the troubling silence that befell everytime a speaker posed a question. It wasn’t easy at first. Very often, I trembled and I stammered… and at times, in my enthusiasm I caught myself verbalising thoughts that had trailed off the main topic of discussion (talk about the irony of being afraid of public speaking!)
However, with time, I began to get the knack of it. The initial fears of stammering and fear of saying something wrong and making a mockery of myself seldom materialised (unless I allowed it). In addition, I found that I wasn’t alone in battling the inner demons who were fanning the fears of public speaking. I also began appreciating that it takes a lot of courage to dare to share and make mistakes in front of people. As such, I really didn’t need to be ashamed or afraid of making mistakes – because as compared to the rest of those who had hidden away their voice, I was proud of my courage.
Armed with my newfound pride in growth and self-development, I was very determined to overcome my fear of sharing and public speaking. I knew I could not rid my fear by running away from it. The only way was to face it everytime I was afraid – to act in spite of the presence of fear!
After several attempts and sharings, I’m no longer preoccupied with my personal struggles with fear when it comes to voicing my thoughts and ideas. In fact, I’ve gotten so used to it that I even welcome additional feedback and exchanging ideas with those who disagree with me or seek correct me! Now I know entertaining disagreements and being proven wrong are hard to stomach for some people. Hey, I don’t like them too! But I’ve since recognised and valued feedback as valuable resources which I can call upon to use as my own in future sharings/talks (like in this blog!).
My initiatives to speak up more and engage in active sharing of ideas have therefore enabled me to increase my ability to communicate effectively as well as widening the wealth of resources and knowledge which I can tap on.
Now isn’t that wonderful?