I was nearly 30 years old before I conquered my fear of public speaking. I had avoided it like the plague. Then by chance I was literally thrown into a situation where I had no choice. I had to get up there and talk.
At that time I was working at a race track, my job was teaching people (usually 4 or 5 at time) how to handicap a horse race, how to read a racing form and in general give the novice at the track some insight on how horse racing works.
One extremely busy day, we had a large number of special groups, and the one person who did seminars to large groups didn't show up. My boss grabbed me as I was running to the next lesson and literally dragged me off to the biggest group we had, over 200 people.
My instructions were: Tell them about horse racing and answer their questions. There I was, at the podium, with a microphone in my hand, shaking in my boots. Then I thought, I know this stuff. There is no reason I can't do this. So I started speaking, nervously at first. Soon there were many questions. I was able to answer about 99 percent of them, and those I didn't know the answer to, I just said, "I don't know but I will find out the answer and get back to you after the seminar." B
y the time the hour was over I realized that this was actually fun.
I didn't die, I didn't throw up, and I didn't freeze. I realized that there really isn't anything to fear if you know your subject. I also found that people were very appreciative of the fact that if I didn't know the answer right them I got back to them with the information.
After that initial entrance into public speaking I continued to take large seminars and found that they were fun, energizing and most of all, the groups that I spoke to enjoyed themselves and their visit to our track.
Again, my advice is, know your subject, don't bluff and do any follow up that's necessary. You will find that the jitters just go away.
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