Some people come to Toastmasters with a debilitating glossophobia, the fear of public speaking.
Here are a few strategies your club can use to help people get started:
- Reinforce the idea that there is no expectation of performance
- Exercise - "Silence is Golden": During Table Topics, as an exercise, have people stand in silence for 60 seconds. The person meets eyes with people in the audience. The audience gazes back softly with the ideas "gratitude, admiration, courage." It's more difficult than you think. Credit for the idea goes to Lee Glickstein of Speaking Circles.
- The Toastmaster stands with the speaker in support and encouragement, something like this: "Okay, we are up here together. It's pretty exciting, hunh? Let's just stay in silence for a few moments. Just notice your breathing. Take a deep breath. Feels good? Your breath supports you and gives you strength. When you are ready, look at a person in the room. Take another deep breath.
[To audience] I ask YOU to give your kind regards with a soft gaze that expresses gratitude, admiration, courage.
We are here to support you. It's safe. Okay, look at individuals. Speaking in front of a group is really speaking to people one-at-a-time. Take your time. We have time. When you are ready, you can start.
[Ease away and take your seat, next to the speaker. Smile]
- If a speaker gets stuck, the Toastmaster can facilitate with open questions, such as, "Can you describe X, something that you remember?"
- Assign "easy roles" with or wothout a written script in 16-18 pt font, such as joke, toast, closing thought... whatever works
- Use voice and body warm up exercises to get the group going and overcome self-consciousness
- Instead of trying to BE confident, pretend to be; act like a confident speaker might
Please add to this collection by sending us your tips. What worked for you?