What Part Of Public Speaking Makes You Nervous?

The public part or the speaking part?

The following Facebook comments from fellow Toastmasters provide a deeper insight than I imagined:

  • Author W. Faye Portman: “Speaking [part]. Saying the wrong thing.”
  • Linda Thompson: “Pubic part. I like talking.”
  • Clark Pierce: “For me it’s the public part depending on the audience and topic. I gave a speech about failure in my club about 8 months ago. I felt good about it as I was going to the meeting. When I got there we had 5 guests. I considered changing the speech to a more palatable subject so as not to be off putting to these guests and because I was feeling vulnerable with do many more new people than we normally have visit. I gave the speech anyway and I think over the next few weeks 3 of them joined.”

Breathe, On Purpose

“Forgot to breathe” is a common observation from Toastmasters who are doing a post-mortem about going blank and/or panicking during their speech.

The answer is an on-going cycle of rehearsals and drills and “again, from the top” that put you in the moment when you go blank/panic. Then you can start to add “breathing, on purpose” as a technique to address the moment.

Eventually, you reduce the time-cycle between panic and breathe.

Fear of Public Speaking

Toastmasters observation: sometimes peeps overspend on “planning” and underspend on “doing.”

There’s no substitute for falling down and getting back up.

Tonight’s (Sept 9th) public speaking demo takeaway when addressing what to do when you “go blank” during a presentation – and you’re very scientifically minded:

  • Develop a methodology, a framework, and test different techniques to overcome “going blank.”
  • And use the Table Topics section to test your hypothesis. Table Topics is like a petri dish ready to test new strains of techniques.

Table Topics (and prepared speeches) is the only place to stress-test your hypothesis.

As a Psychology major at American River College in Sacramento, I learned we only have 2 options: fight or flight.

In Toastmasters public speaking, I learned we have a 3rd option: stand & deliver.

Public Speaking Feedback Loop

So cool that client had a videotape of their speech. Gives me a chance to rewind and rewatch. Very cool.

My feedback:

  • Font size: Consider doubling your font size (which means more pieces of paper).
  • Voice projection: Consider sounding a bit louder.
  • Eye contact: Good. Consider increasing the duration of eye contact with each Board member. Having a larger font size will help smooth the transition of looking back-and-forth between Board members and your paper.
  • Hands position: Your default hand positions are: “clutched with interlaced fingers” and “overlapping hands.” Your hands can probably be separated and “bracket” your pieces of paper (left hand at left-side of paper; right hand at right-side of paper). Also consider placing your left hand at the left side of your paper while your right hand tracks your place in a sentence and/or flips the paper over.
  • Speaking pace: Sounds good. Consider slowing down a bit in the beginning and you’d still be fine.
  • Pausing/breathing: Consider adding slightly longer breaks between info by forcing longer pauses between info.
  • Good use of animating/extending your right hand during your final answer session.

Their response:

Wow! Thank you so much for the feed back! You’re great. Definitely making the font size bigger and using one hand to keep my place. I do want to project [my voice] more, I need to practice that. I forgot to bring a water bottle and my throat (of course) felt drier because I had no water. I love your suggestions and making the connection with you.

Speaking to Win: A Panel of Champions

Had an AWESOME time answering audience member’s questions and hearing my fellow panelist’s insightful answers at the 2017 Toastmasters District 39 Fall Conference Speaking to Win: A Panel of Champions Educational Session.


Panel speakers: Keerthi Karnati, Donnie Crandell, Jeffrey Purtee, Reid Walley, John Davis
Moderator: David Goad
Conference: Toastmasters 2017 District 39 Fall Conference
Event: Educational Session
Location: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe, Stateline, CA
Date: November 11, 2017

Speaking to Win - A Panel of Champions - 2017 Toastmasters District 39 Fall Conference
Reid Walley - Toastmasters 2017 District 39 Fall Conf - Speaking to Win Panel - Pic 1
Reid Walley - Toastmasters 2017 District 39 Fall Conf - Speaking to Win Panel - Pic 2

Confidence Training for Pilates Instructors

P2O Hot Pilates & Fitness co-founder Lindy Hobbs made a very smart business decision when she expanded her business: include public speaking & confidence training as part of her Pilates Instructor training curriculum.

Lindy understood the power of Toastmasters‘s public speaking training and wanted to offer that confidence to her future Pilates Instructors. She contacted Capital City Toastmasters in 2015 – and I’ve been leading her Pilates Instructors through a 2-hour hands-on public speaking workshop twice a year ever since.

“Reid is entertaining and does a great job at helping bring our future Instructors out of their shell, and feel more comfortable speaking and expressing themselves in front of a group. Reid has been a great addition to our Teacher Training program!” – Lindy Hobbs

A common question from previous workshops bubbled to the surface during our most recent workshop:

“How do I overcome beating myself up when I make a mistake?”

And we generated an answer:

“Instead of wasting 5 hours beating yourself up over the mistake, the technique we came up with was to go home and spend that time physically writing down the solution for next time. Then standing and physically practicing the solution out loud. And the mantra is to replace the ‘I feel crushed’ with ‘be better next time.'”

If you’d like to empower your Pilates Instructors with more confidence in front of their students, add my 2-hour hands-on Public Speaking & Confidence Workshop to your instructor training. Hit me up.

Public Speaking & Confidence Workshop for P2O Hot Pilates & Fitness Pilates Instructors - Oct 14 2017 - 01 Public Speaking & Confidence Workshop for P2O Hot Pilates & Fitness Pilates Instructors - Oct 14 2017 - 02

Going Off Script Can Have Devastating Results

In a Toastmasters speech contest, you can disqualify yourself by going under-or-over-time! Toastmasters’ International (inspirational/motivational) speech contest allows you to speak for 5-7 minutes – with 30 seconds of leeway. IE: you’re technically good from 4-minutes-and-30-seconds to 7-minutes-and-30-seconds. But if you end your speech at 4:29 or 7:31, you’re disqualified. I’ve seen it happen to my competitors. And it’s devastating!

During last year’s 2016 District 39 Spring Conference in Stockton, CA, Donny Crandell won first place in the International Speech contest (I came in 2nd). He went on to compete and win at the Semifinals round, and was 1 of 10 people, worldwide, that competed on the big 100-foot-wide stage in the Finals round – the World Champion of Public Speaking contest.

This year, Donny and I chatted during the District 39 Spring Conference in Anderson, CA, where we were competitors again. He shared his story of going overtime by 6 seconds when he was competing on the big stage last year. “I blew it,” he said. “I went overtime by 6 seconds.” “Did you ad-lib anything,” I asked. “Yep.” he said. “I went off script and added the Serenity Prayer at the very end of my speech.”

The international speech contest season is from February to August. Seven months. It’s a lot of work, sacrifice, time away from family, extra time before and/or after work. And it’s not a paid gig. You volunteer. So going overtime by 6 seconds can be devastating – especially at the Final round in front of an International audience of 2,500 people. All that hard work, luck, time, and travel…

Going off script CAN work, but it’s such a coin-toss. You have no idea if you’re gonna land on heads or tails.

Losing vs Loser

Has your favorite sports team ever lost? Losing is part of the game. All hail the game!

I lost this weekend’s District 39 Toastmasters International speech contest at the District level (round 4 of 6). Didn’t even place. And when the top-three winner’s were announced, and I wasn’t one of them, I was immediately handed two options:

1. Bewildered

2. Be grateful

Rich Hopkins: “It’s ok to be both.”
Me: “As long as I firmly land on Be Grateful as soon as possible, then I can move forward with extreme freedom.”

John McCain: “In your opinion, what made the winning speech better?”
Me: “Keerthi Karnati‘s District-winning speech (at District 39’s 2017 Spring Conference) was simply a deeper, heart-felt, funny, scary, well-presented speech. And only Be Grateful allows me to see that clearly.”

Michael Stephens: “I don’t think it’s that you’ve “lost”; I just think it’s that someone else “won”… great job:)”
Me: “I firmly believe in meritocracy. I also believe in losing as a normal part of living – everyone should not get a trophy. That’s one thing I like about Toastmasters, there are clear distinctions between trophy and no trophy. Like winning, losing is equally a natural possible outcome of participating.”

Robin Robinson: “Next topic, sportsmanship and being a good player. Competing with dignity, and dealing with the outcome graciously, is a worthwhile skill. And you did that. Bravo.”
Me: “Sportsmanship is a big deal to me. I’m all for analysing my own loss, but pointing fingers is definitely not cool. So, yeah, sportsmanship has huge value.”

Losing vs Loser

Losing is part of honing one’s craft. The loser stops honing.

(To move forward) I must be willing to admit that I lost

I have to admit that I lost the speech contest in order to re-calculate my destination. Losing a speech contest and turning down the wrong street are the same. They both require self-realization and re-calculation. I feel a certain freedom when I look in the mirror and accept my loss. Owning it is liberating!