For all of my life I have been in roles that required leadership and the ability to speak. When I was young, it was second nature. I had no problem talking to anyone. My siblings like to say I could make a friend at a rock fight. Perhaps it came from being the youngest of 4, but speaking did not frighten me.
Through the years, life happened. Experiencing loss, young adult comparison, relationships, divorce all took its toll. I can’t tell you where along the path it got hard, but IT GOT HARD!
Speaking became something that made me panic inside. Fear that I would sound stupid would bubble up, self-doubt would overcome me, and I would avoid it at all costs.
Using many tactics to avoid speaking and still get my job done was and is a great skill of mine. From putting others in the speaking seat to “spotlight their talent”, hiding behind my partners (they are men and show little hesitation to speak), or just waiting until someone else stepped in to do it, all were on my repertoire.
Recently, my distaste of speaking, and avoidance of such has left me in a less professional light than I am searching. Hiding behind my male counterparts feels like I am acting as an underling or secretary which I am not. Not speaking has begun to feel as if I am keeping myself locked in a closet, unable to reach the people I can help, because they can’t hear me. Trust me I speak a different language than my male counterparts.
My search for help with this speaking anxiety led me to a wonderful, smart, funny woman named Angela (Angela Lussier, The Speaker Sisterhood). She has set out to help women improve their public speaking skills. Watching her speak, still looking ultimately professional even if her cheeks brighten, inspired me to put on my own big girl pants, get over myself and get my message out!! There are women out there who need what I have.
Speaking is now something I do, even if it is “fake it until I make it”. Each time I put myself out there to speak it gets a little easier. Learning some tools to help me has been encouraging. I still have a long way to go, but just that first step of saying I am going to change this feels FANTASTIC!!
As I grow and learn, I will share my thoughts, in the hopes they will encourage or help others. I send my love, peace and BIG GIRL PANTS out to all of you. Do something scary today. It feels good!!!
In the meantime I am bringing Angela’s awesome process to Boston, and hopefully the South Shore. If you want to find out more check out www.speakersisterhood.com.