If someone would have said to me two years ago I’d start public speaking, I would have laughed in their face. Two years on that’s the road I’ve gone down, and surprisingly I’m thoroughly enjoying it!
When starting my mental health campaigning around seven months again now, I very much wanted to throw myself into things by attending events, speaking out the media etc, however one thing I did not expect was to face my fear of public speaking. Throughout school and particularly during my last few years, I can remember absolutely hating speaking in front of people, and even the mere thought of it filled me with dread. As part of my GCSE English coursework, I had to deliver a presentation about my recent work experience and I spent weeks worrying about it. The constant doubts and overthinking ultimately made me ill, therefore I just could not face that environment and pressure. I did return to school a week later to deliver the presentation- yet all I remember is stuttering and my whole body shaking throughout!
Because I have suffered these negative experiences and intense inner emotions, I feel like it has brought out a side of me that I never thought existed. My work campaigning around mental health has given me such passion and drive that it has pushed me through a barrier of extreme anxiety and self-doubt. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t extremely tough, however the experience is now more enjoyable than nerve-racking.
Having been invited to a regional Time to Change event with Jane (who I previously worked with), we were asked to deliver a presentation on our work in Blackpool. For a first presentation, it was nice to be joined by someone else and work together. The success of it exceeded all my expectations and I was surprised that I was able to contribute as much as I did. Most of all, I wanted to make my “own mark” and not leave it all in Jane’s hands.
The following months I did a few more joint presentations and I feel like it gave me the confidence and preparation to speak individually. Neither of my individual speeches have gone as well as I’d like, however it is a learning experience and does provide a massive sense of achievement. Whenever you speak and share your experiences on such a personal level and it makes a difference to people, it’s honestly a feeling like no other and one I’ll find very difficult to replicate. Getting nice comments is also the icing on the cake!
Moving forward, my aim is to continue my public speaking and build on the work I’ve already done. For anybody considering trying their hand at public speaking, give it a try. It may be cliche, but with passion, determination and hard work, nearly anything is possible!
Your story needs to move people’s spirits and build their goodwill, so that when you finally do ask them to buy from you, they feel like you’ve given them so much it would be almost rude to refuse. – Gary Vee
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