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Sunday, 11 September 2016 02:53

I was asked to hold a speech for a book that I contributed, should I accept?

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I'm not comfortable to talk to a big audience (over 50-60 people), and that is my main concern about holding a speech. 

Let me tell you about my book.This appears to me to be one of a classic pain vs gain scenario. Which is better … to feel the pain i.e. the fear of public speaking for a possible gain of increased book sales, further speaking opportunities, increased revenue or not to feel the pain and decline the speaking opportunity?

Declining doesn’t necessarily avoid the pain. It avoids the immediate anxiety and stress of not having to deliver the speech but it opens one up for self-doubt, second thoughts and self-criticism for being a coward for not taking the opportunity.

I find that decisions like this involve emotional and logical thinking to resolve. A fear of public speaking is an example of an emotional response to protect us from feeling the pain. We can back up our fear-protection mode by our logic. “Nobody would want to hear me.”; “I don’t have anything to say”; “it’s all in the book anyways, they don’t need me.”

There are ways however, that we can use our emotional/logical responses strategically to help us make difficult decisions.

I often use a T graph on a piece of paper to help me with difficult decisions. On a good sized piece of lined-paper I draw a T. This creates two columns. On one column I add the word Pros. On the other column I add Cons.

The original question here is whether to speak publicly about the contribution to the book or not. Therefore, the page should be filled out with both the pros and cons of doing so. This is called a brain-storming session. The idea is to generate as many ideas as possible on both side of the T. At this point, the idea is to generate ideas, not rate them.

Once you have exhausted your ideas I would then take two highlighter pens and working through both columns, identify each idea as being emotional or logical based.

The next step would be to determine if each item is actually true or not. Example: from the Cons column. ‘People will laugh at me.’ Possibly, but possibly not. This doesn’t warrant a True rating. If questionable, a follow-up question would be “Have people laughed at me every time that I have spoken?” A follow-up question to that one would be “If they did laugh at you when you spoke, does that have any impact on you right now?” And then “could having people laugh at you work to your advantage?”

Thus far we have taken a look at how to resolve a pain vs gain situation. We still have to deal with the fear of public speaking aspect of the question.

There are lots of variables that come into play here. How much lead time do you have to prepare the speech i.e. when is your speech? How long will you be expected to speak? Will you be the only speaker or will other contributors to the book also be speaking? Is the Organizer of the speaking event able to assist you in any way?

Assuming you have time between now and the actual speaking engagement, you could attend a local Toastmasters club. If the time is short, it likely won’t allow you time to develop and hone your speaking skills but it might just help you cut the edge on your fear of public speaking. It can be helpful to see other people in a group setting that also have a fear of public speaking, yet they are doing something to overcome their fears. Check out then click on the Find a Club link to see if there is a club near you.

In the eventuality that there isn’t a Toastmasters club near you, or your speaking engagement is imminent, it might be helpful to see if there is someone in your personal network that is proficient with public speaking and be willing to help you.

For me personally, I have avoided speaking opportunities due to being afraid of public speaking. While I avoided my initial pain, I almost always wished I had had the courage to get up and speak. I don’t know if it caused missed opportunity for me or not.

I was forty years old before I did something about it. I joined Toastmasters 22 years ago and continually look for opportunities to speak in public. It doesn’t do anything about my potentially missed opportunities but I believe that it will create future opportunities.

Thanks for the question. I hope that the decision you make works for you.

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Rae Stonehouse

Author Bio:

Rae A. Stonehouse is a Canadian born author & speaker. His professional career as a Registered Nurse working predominantly in psychiatry/mental health, has spanned four decades.

Rae has embraced the principal of CANEI (Constant and Never-ending Improvement) as promoted by thought leaders such as Tony Robbins and brings that philosophy to each of his publications and presentations.

Rae has dedicated the latter segment of his journey through life to overcoming his personal inhibitions. As a 20+ year member of Toastmasters International he has systematically built his self-confidence and communicating ability. He is passionate about sharing his lessons with his readers and listeners. His publications thus far are of the self-help, self-improvement genre and systematically offer valuable sage advice on a specific topic. He is a long-time member of Kelowna Flying Solo Toastmasters and is the driving force behind its long-term success. 

His writing style can be described as being conversational. As an author Rae strives to have a one-to-one conversation with each of his readers, very much like having your own personal self-development coach. Rae is known for having a wry sense of humour that features in his publications.

Author of Self-Help Downloadable E-Books:

Power Networking for Shy PeoplePower Networking for Shy People: Tips & Techniques for Moving from Shy to Sly!

PROtect Yourself!PROtect Yourself! Empowering Tips & Techniques for Personal Safety: A Practical Violence Prevention Manual for Healthcare Workers.

E=Emcee SquaredE=Emcee SquaredTips & Techniques to Becoming a Dynamic Master of Ceremonies.

Power of PromotionPower of Promotion: On-line Marketing for Toastmasters Club Growth


Phone Rae 250-451-6564 or

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Copyright 2015 & 2016 Rae Stonehouse. The above document may be freely copied and distributed as long as the author’s name and contact info remain attached.

To learn more about Rae A. Stonehouse, visit the Wonderful World of Rae Stonehouse at http://raestonehouse.com

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