On the day of our Grand Opening Celebration, my husband and business partner asked me if I was going to be saying a few words that evening. I was annoyed at myself for not preparing something ahead of time but responded to him by saying, “No, I forgot”. I have always been petrified of public speaking and looking back on all of the preparations for the grand opening, addressing the crowd didn’t even enter my mind. Denial perhaps? The land of denial is a powerful place to be but it was time for me to leave the land of unicorns and rainbows to face the truth and face my fears.
The issue I have always had with public speaking is that I cannot stand what happens to me beforehand; the nervousness, the gripping fear, and the increased heart rate. This is precisely what happened to me when he merely asked the simple question “Will you be saying a few words tonight sweetheart”?
I have purposely avoided this activity my entire life except when I am forced to introduce myself at workshops, meetings, or conferences which truthfully, is not public speaking at all! “Hi, my name is Kim and I have been a trainer for 12 years” has been the extent of my oratory skills. Even after I graduated from college, I made sure that my job description did not include the word presentation and I did not care if that meant staying in a much smaller salary range.
Years later, when I returned to work after being an at-home mom, I started teaching fitness classes at the Y. Two hours before my first class was to begin, I was in fight or flight mode and filled with dread as I priced out airline tickets to leave the country. Okay, that is an exaggeration. The truth is I was on my sofa in a fetal position feeling sick to my stomach, trying to dream up a believable excuse so I could bail. My desire to be in the fitness industry was stronger than this aversion to addressing a crowd so I powered through the first class and after sticking it out for a few months realized that demonstrating the exercises while speaking actually diluted the horror of it all – but it did not address the bigger problem.
The day after our Grand Opening Celebration, I was angry with myself for taking the easy way out. I regretted not stepping up to the plate and decided that I did not want to be that person anymore. The kind of person who allows fear to determine one’s choices. I decided that I was no longer going to continue to say things like “I am not good at it”, “I don’t like it”, and “I cannot do it” like I have done my entire life in regards to giving talks. I didn’t want to stay stagnant in my own comfortable little world anymore unable to reach my full potential.
I have always admired people that seem so comfortable with delivering inspiring messages to large audiences and decided that if I put my mind to it, I could accomplish the same feat. In order for me to get started on this new project, I would need help and that is where Toastmasters Internationalenters the picture.
Since joining Toastmasters, I have completed my first speech called “The Ice-Breaker”. I will take this moment to apologize to my husband and children who had to endure listening to me practicing around the house and around the clock! One day my son Alex walked into the kitchen to find me practicing out loud and he said, “Mom, are you talking to the pineapple?” Last week I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion called “Second Acts” in front of 90 women at The College Women’s Club Annual Fundraiser. Six months ago if someone had predicted this, I would have told them they were crazy!
Thank you Summit Toastmasters for warmly welcoming me into your club and for all of your encouragement and support!
Are there areas in your life that you wish you weren’t that person anymore? If so, I am here to encourage you that it is never too late to become whatever person you want to be.
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We help individuals over 40 embrace a healthier lifestyle that’s filled with movement and activities. From weight loss to strengthening, nutrition to mobility, we help Union County, NJ residents live better. Start to life your best life, and love the way you look and feel.
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