Overcoming Shyness Through Public Speaking

Overcoming shyness can be greatly helped when you understand more about why most people fear public speaking.

Most People Are Shy About Public Speaking

Does that make you feel better? In my experience most people are also shy about approaching people for any proactive reason. Just look at the abysmal success statistics in sales - most people would rather dust the cat or re-arrange the pot plants than prospect for new business. Take a look at what people procrastinate about and you'll almost always find it involves communicating with other people.

What this suggests is that you're not alone in being shy - it's just a matter of degree.

Are You As Shy As This Guy?

Henry Cavendish (10 October 1731 - 24 February 1810) was the most gifted English scientist of his age and according to Bill Bryson, he was also the strangest.

His shyness was so bad that it was 'bordering on disease'. Any contact with other people was intensely uncomfortable for him.

Here's an extract from Bill Bryson's book "A Short History Of Nearly Everything" that shows just how shy poor Henry Cavendish was.

Once he opened his door to find an Austrian admirer, freshly arrived from Vienna, on the front step. Excitedly the Austrian began to babble out praise. For a few moments Cavendish received the compliments as if they were blows from a blunt object and then, unable to take any more, fled down the path and out the gate, leaving the front door wide open. It was some hours before he could be coaxed back to his property. Even his housekeeper communicated with him by letter."

Although he did sometimes venture out into society - he was particularly devoted to the weekly scientific soirées of the great naturalist Sir Joseph Banks - it was always made clear to the other guests that Cavendish was on no account to be approached or even looked at. Those who sought his views were advised to wander into his vicinity as if by accident and 'talk as it were into vacancy'. If their remarks were scientifically worthy they might receive a mumbled reply but more often than not they would hear a peeved squeak and turn to find an actual vacancy and the sight of Cavendish fleeing for a more peaceful corner."

So please take some comfort from the understanding that there always will be and indeed, always have been people way more shy than yourself.

Use Public Speaking To Defeat Shyness

Read the articles on this site about the fear of public speaking and see if you can gain some insights that will deepen your understanding of your shyness.

Then go out and join a Toastmasters Club. You'll be eased very gently and respectfully into the process of saying things out loud in front of other humans. You'll also be doing it in an organisation that is in set up to help shy people. You could say they are in the business of overcoming shyness, and they have succeeded with thousands of people just like you.

I was at my own Toastmasters Club a couple of weeks ago and because of where I was sitting I could see a new member's hands shaking as she gripped the lecturn and completed her first speech. Like everyone else in the room I felt one overwhelming emotion as I watched and that was admiration. Admiration at her courage for overcoming shyness and taking the first small step to a freedom that she probably can't even imagine yet.

That's what awaits you too. I can't wait to hear about your triumph over the idea called 'shyness' that you used to identify with.

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