Is shyness holding you back in your business?
Whether it’s a networking event, a meeting or a public speaking opportunity – all of these can be painful experiences if you are very shy. And if, as a result, you avoid them – then your business could be suffering.
Three years ago Alan Donegan lost his job. He was already painfully shy, but with the job loss, his confidence hit rock bottom. The future didn’t look too good for Alan who was too shy and too fearful to get back on his feet.
But all this changed when he joined his local Toastmasters club.
With over 250 clubs across the UK and Ireland, Toastmasters aims to provide a mutually supportive environment for improving public speaking and leadership skills. So, when Alan joined he was persuaded to give a talk to his club.
“I performed in front of the club and they laughed. They enjoyed my speeches. It gave me a huge amount of confidence. My fellow members were incredibly supportive and kind. They helped me to change my style and built my confidence.”
With regular feedback and encouragement from his fellow members Alan’s confidence grew and in turn his shyness gradually disappeared.
In the three years since joining Toastmasters Alan has reached the final of the 2008 Humorous Speaking Championship, acquired a cupboard full of trophies and presented in front of 100,000 people in a day working for Andrex. If you feel shyness may be holding you back then you might find Alan’s eight “overcoming shyness” tips useful for you – and your business;
- Remember nerves are normal and everyone, yes everyone, gets them.
- Stop thinking about what will happen if you forget your words or fall over. Instead focus on “how much value can I give to my audience?”, “how can I make it fun for my audience?” or ask “how could this be fun for me?”
- Remind yourself you are there to give your audience the gift of your experience, knowledge and expertise.
- If you get the opportunity beforehand – chat to the audience. They will feel more like a group of friends.
- Face the fear. The more you give presentations the more comfortable you will become with it. So practice, practice, practice!
- Remember your audience wants you to succeed! They are not thinking “I hope this guy is rubbish, I hope I don’t enjoy it.”
- Deliver the talk in front of a friendly audience first. Avoid testing a new speech on a new audience.
- Before you start to present take a moment to breathe deeply and slowly. Try breathing in for three, holding for nine, and then out for six. Repeat four or five times.
About Toastmasters International:
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organisation currently has more than 270,000 members in 13,000 clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. There are over 250 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7000 members. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org