Come on “Fear”, let’s go to the meeting…

By Club member, Dr Krishna Naineni

I and most people who attend or are thinking of attending Toastmasters feared public speaking. It is not my strength. I joined the club to get better at public speaking. In this blog, I’ll share with you how the Toastmasters has helped me to make “Fear” my friend, and how “Fear” and I, are living happily ever after.

How fear affects my work

As a medical educator, I’m expected to deliver lectures, present at conferences and facilitate small group educational seminars. Fear was the root, at least that is what I thought, of all the negative thoughts that were floating in my mind whenever I thought of public speaking. For example, whilst preparing for a morning lecture, I fear that I may not express clearly, students may not get what I have to say, and may not be able to answer their questions. Whenever I have these thoughts I become upset, anxious and frustrated. Being anxious, I rush through the material, be rigid in my body language and later annoyed at my poor delivery. This, as you can imagine, was putting a lot of stress on me.

Time to stop blaming fear and do something about it

Blaming everything on “Fear”, not surprisingly I wanted to get rid of it. I thought fear was making me think, feel and behave negatively.  I came across Toastmasters when I was doing an online course. The speaker highly recommended Toastmasters and suggested to find the nearest Toastmaster Club and join to improve public speaking. That’s exactly what I did.

What did I learn?

Speaking with Toastmasters and watching them speak at the club meetings gave me confidence. It is when I realized that “Fear” is not the problem, it’s my reaction to it. I have learnt that I cannot get rid of “Fear”, however, I can get rid of my reactions to it. This shift in my thinking process is helping me understand and manage it better.  I’m now friends with “Fear”. It likes hanging out with me and I let it. I am thankful to “fear” because it has led me to Toastmasters.

How is Toastmasters helping me:

  • I’m acknowledging the presence of “Fear” and not thinking about overcoming fear.
  • I’m no longer reacting to it.
  • I’m taking the “Fear” along with me to Table Topics (an impromptu speaking challenge)
  • I let “Fear” hang out with me when I’m preparing, practising and delivering speeches.
  • By not reacting to “Fear”, I’m saving energy and using that energy to listen attentively when others are speaking.

I have made “Fear” my friend. We hang out together. Will you?”

Look, Listen ‘n’ Respect the “Other”

Dr Krishna Naineni is a GP, Associate Tutor, Brighton And Sussex Medical School, Medical Educator International Listening Association (Ila) Member and Echo Certified Listening Practitioner

Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash

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