(by our Guest Author today - Ellee Seymour)
I love words. I love reading them, writing them, understanding them and delving into their origins. But when it comes to speaking them - well in public at least - I find that words fail me. Or rather I fail them.
It’s a strange and unwelcome feeling. I must be insane to admit that I would rather face the pain of childbirth any day than speak in front of an audience. I have some horrid past experiences to justify this; times when my body became tense and rigid, my throat as dry as cardboard and my voice shaking like a ragmop.
I have no idea how this fear originated. One expert questioned whether it was because I am the third of four children, and then there is the possibility that I may have inherited this fear from my father who was a very shy man.
I know I am not alone, I believe it is the biggest fear that people have. It’s rather like listening to a quiz show such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire when you know the answer to the £64,000 question while the contestant is desperately struggling to come up with the answer– it’s only easy if you know it.
Likewise for public speaking. While Jeremy thrives under the spotlight, and I have a husband who finds it as easy as knotting his tie, give me a pool of alligators to swim with instead, it’s a far less terrifying challenge.
Well that’s certainly how things were until last year when I decided to be more in control and I did two things – I had hypnotherapy with Mark from Winning Minds and joined Cambridge Speakers Club.
Since then, I am delighted to say there has been a slow, but marked, transformation, the difference in my speaking skills is very apparent. Most importantly, I can feel the difference, I am more confident. The racing pulse and nervous rash has lessened considerably.
I made my fourth speech at my Speakers Club this week entitled “Lord Nelson, My Hero”. For the first time I felt that I was able to control my nervousness and my wavering voice. I paused after paragraphs and the words pleasantly flowed off the tip of my tongue like never before. And I was able to make eye contact with the audience for the first time, I even smiled and looked as if I was enjoying it. I had excellent feedback from the audience too, it was almost thrilling. And best of all, the audience said they couldn’t believe I had ever been a nervous speaker, it was music to my ears.
I know I still need to work on my body language, the use of my arms, deciding how and where to stand, but I also know that comes with practice– and Rome wasn’t built in a day!
I also had a fear of spiders which I have conquered after attending a special course at London Zoo as a journalistic assignment for work.
Just as well because I think spiders are becoming even bigger each year, the huge ones won’t fit into my spider catcher. I still prefer to keep them at arms length if their breadth exceeds the size of a dinner plate!
Just to prove how brave I was, you can see the photo of me holding a giant tarantula in the palm of my hand taken at the end of the day. Now if I can do this, then I can surely learn how the skills of public speaking.
So tell me, what is your fear, is there a difficulty in your life which you are also trying to overcome? Is public speaking a problem for you too?