Overcoming Public Speaking Myths

Here are some common myths that we hear about public speaking.

Here are some common myths that we hear about public speaking. While trendy, these myths omit valuable context that Toastmasters can use to better develop speaking skills.

Too Much Practice Will Ruin Your Speech

Some hold that too much practice will ruin their speech and make it “stale”. This is false. Great speakers like Steve Jobs put in lots of extra hours tweaking and improving their speeches to make them distinctive and exceptional. Speaking is a skill, and skills can always be improved with practice. Remember the “glows and grows” in a Toastmasters speech evaluation? The evaluator generates these by using active listening skills. For more information on speech evaluation see Evaluate to Motivate from the Toastmasters International Successful Club Series.

Speaking Skill is a Gift

False. While some people seem to speak naturally and effortlessly, the reality for most speakers (especially professional ones) is that they do lots of research and take the time to sharpen their skills. For example, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave thousands of hours of sermons and speeches before giving his I Have a Dream speech in August 1963.

You Cannot Master Your Fear of Public Speaking

Fear is a natural emotion when humans interact with other humans. We all want to be liked and have others respect our opinions. Experienced speakers train themselves to cope with their fear by “converting” it into enthusiasm and passion. In this way, they channel the energy created by that fear into positivity.

Summary

Assess how you feel about these myths: do you believe any of them? If so, here is a quote from the original Toastmasters Competent Communicator manual: “More than four million people will confirm that the Toastmasters program works, but it works only when you prepare carefully, actively participate, and speak as often as possible. Apply yourself, and you will experience the benefits you want in all aspects of your life.”