“Public Speaking” or “Speaking in Public”

Several years ago while wandering around the web, I came across a claim and a statistic that grabbed my attention and held it. I’m not sure why it had that effect on me, but it did. I read that the #1 fear of Americans was the Fear of Speaking. And it further stated that between 60%-70% of Americans suffer that fear. Of all the “Fears”, Speaking was #1. Not flying, falling, dying, heart attack, spiders or snakes, or any of the other weird, horrible fates & experiences that can befall a person during a lifetime. I pushed back from my computer and stared at the wall behind it and my mind was flooded with thoughts. The main thread of my thoughts at that moment was one of “loss”. Lost input from people that went before us. Lost ideas from generations of people that were never invited to participate. Lost opinions from people that never wanted to Speak in Public. Solutions, especially lost solutions. Solutions based on trial-n-error, empirical observation, unique and isolated experiences. Solutions that might have turned history in a different direction. The thing about solutions is they rarely come from one person. Oh I know, literature is full of heroes that come along and save-the-day! But in reality, most solutions are cumulative and collaborative. I thought about all the “Women”. Maybe a full 50% of Humanity, in most cases going to their graves without having the equal opportunity to be part of the Solutions. What a loss. I thought about “Minorities” and big and small collections of humans that were defeated, overwhelmed, destroyed, and absorbed. What happened to their knowledge? I know we can study what’s left behind, in retrospect, but reading about them in Wikipedia or the Yale Library misses the point. It’s just not the same as having their input at an earlier stage of human development. Well, I’m confident we will never know the totality of what was never said...how could we? But, what I do know, is that if the polling statistics are correct, and they seem to hold steady, then approximately two-thirds of Americans today don’t participate in public conversations. And that’s in all kinds of public conversations: work-place meetings, parents night at school, community improvement meetings, political events, ...all of those and more. In America where the Freedom to Speak is enshrined in our basic

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approximately two-thirds of Americans remain silent. I took advantage of LA’s available acting resources: Workshops. and wondering “What the hell am I doing here? Will I remember my lines?” Well. Never thought I needed one. my “Fear of Speaking” was about to be revealed I thought.Laws. But things got better after that. improving. learning skills. until. Improvisation Workshops. the unsolved issues. VoiceOver Workshops. All along I was comparing my personal experiences with the new information I was accumulating. books from amazon. It was a painful stressful experience for me and I’m sure for the people that had to endure it. Taking chances. the egos fighting for 15 minutes of fame and I have to ask the question: “How’s that “Delegation” thing working out for you?” “Pretty Poorly” I thought. Visit tomjdolan. . In self-defense and having absolutely no experience or training as an actor. researching on the web and looking at local offerings around Los Angeles. I got through it. but through unexpected circumstances (aren’t they always). And. Theatrical Acting Workshops. Well that’s another story for another time. never took a speaking course in school. things got better. But. The first time I was hired to act in a TV commercial. Checked out some LA area networking groups and visited a couple of Toastmasters meetings. I had never studied any of this. I was sitting on the back-end of a small imported station wagon. lots of web sites too. I can share two events that relate to Speaking. Alas. presenting an unprecedented opportunity for all groups to engage and be heard. The first time I had to deliver a Monologue in an Acting Workshop. with better results. more fun. Invested time reading articles. I moved to Hollywood to become a film maker. I survived but I didn’t really understand how because afterwards I could hardly recall anything about the experience. TV Commercial Workshops. I was bouncing a basketball on the driveway in front of me waiting for the Crew to finish setting-up. So I became interested in Public Speaking. We do have an instituted solution called: “Delegation”. less stressful. It felt like an out-of-body experience. and again.com and see what Performance of Speaking is all about. I wound up in front of the Camera instead of behind it. From my experience. I look around at all the petty political wrangling. opinion pieces.

I purchased my domain. Spinning off this experience. Nothing. Somewhere there’s a lesson in all of that. the Secretary called to me. I was willing to teach for “Free” but I wasn’t allowed to Teach until I accepted a Salary for it. I began producing and posting videos to my website. Divided almost equally between women & men. I gave-up telephoning and began visiting schools figuring that I looked reasonably trustworthy in-person and someone might relent. And. Some Visit tomjdolan. At this time I was into my 2nd Year reading/recording books and brochures for the Braille Institute in Los Angeles. That hi-tech chapter has it’s own backstory. more confident Speaker. I couldn’t even post a flyer on a Bulletin Board on campus. nor were any of the other 15-20 schools I contacted. This was in June and by October I was teaching an evening class in Public Speaking. and a 3rd school was looking for an opening in their schedule. and titled it “Speaking Naturally”. Combining those experiences with my new found interest in Public Speaking. I did mention “Free” didn’t I? I telephoned the college. I decided to offer a Free Public Speaking Workshop to students at a nearby college. #2) in order to become a better. I drove out to visit the recommended college. I decided to publish a video website focused on “Public Speaking” from my point-ofview. I donated about 20-25 hours per month in my recording studio and it just became a part of my life. that’s what I’m trying to do. stimulate interest in overcoming the Fear of Speaking. a kind of loosely structured but content rich event. most were business owners. then this… As I was leaving the offices of a prestigious private school with another “sorry” in my ears. they weren’t interested. I value & support Volunteerism.com and see what Performance of Speaking is all about.) After a short conversation followed by a stiff Espresso at a nearby Starbucks to consider the situation. tomjdolan. “Tom. . you have to keep repeating #1. built a free-theme wordpress site. After getting up to speed with website tech. As I wasn’t “on-staff” there were potential litigation issues. but what’s interesting is the direction I found myself taking by the end of that year. Now.com. The Students in my classes ranged in age with a minimum age of 16. in early 2010. I had another class scheduled to begin at a 2nd school on weekends. why don’t you teach a class?” (I thought. techniques.Two Speaking lessons I learned in Hollywood are: #1) in order to become a Speaker you have to Speak. Maybe a 3-4 hour event to introduce ideas. but not all.

They wanted to interact without feeling self-conscious. When I began. or reading a tightly written script. help them develop the Confidence to do it. and. asking questions and conversing at meetings of all kinds. I envisioned Teaching & Coaching a group of people the verbal & physical communication skills they would need to “change their world”. Conversing with people you didn’t know previously at a dinner party or networking event. maybe on a stage. they were interested in becoming comfortable & confident “Speaking in Public” not in becoming “Public Speakers”. Attitudes. It takes courage to face any Fear. Without the Risk there is no Gain. delivering a Powerpoint type presentation from notes. And too. maybe on a podium. a never-ending list of real-life communication possibilities. participate rather than delegate. Visit tomjdolan. What I discovered was that most students simply wanted to gain some confidence and feel comfortable when expressing themselves in public. Teachers learn through teaching and so it was for me. I didn’t know that. in the process. Those aspects you can read about but not fully appreciate until witnessed firsthand. behind a lectern. According to end of course written evaluations. each student had to do their own hard work and Risk-taking. behavior. Literally. but especially your #1 Fear. Although I was the Facilitator. Sounds about right doesn’t it? On the other hand. One critical lesson I learned is this: “Public Speaking” and “Speaking in Public” are not the same thing and are not to be confused. convictions. “Public Speaking” typically means standing in front of a group. 100% said they had learned to manage or in some cases eliminate their Fear of Speaking. express an opinion without feeling foolish. Small talk at a luncheon or business event. the “Fear of Speaking” but that’s exactly what these students did. “Speaking in Public” covers almost everything else.com and see what Performance of Speaking is all about. . The majority of Students shared two points in common: they all felt encumbered to some degree by their “Fear of Speaking”. Commenting.wanted to work on business or school presentations. body language. others just wanted to get over their Fear of Speaking at business & social events. speaking into a microphone.

. but so is Learning to Speak in Public. is a Trainer/Coach and the producer of “Performance of Speaking” a video website devoted to Training & Coaching beginning & experienced Speakers who want to contribute to the public conversations shaping the future of our Communities. and our Planet. And it is. I’m always pleased to see the students personal & professional development. Visit tomjdolan. I often wonder how many students will eventually realize. Whether as a “Public Speaker” or someone who can “Speak in Public” we all benefit from their input. By focusing on the “Skills” a person has less time to focus on their feelings of inadequacy which can be rooted in any number of past events. For most people this results in a simultaneous building of Skills & Confidence. this can happen rather quickly. the Author. Tom j Dolan. our Country. Learning the “Skills” gives a person something to focus on other than their “Fear”.com and see what Performance of Speaking is all about. And actually.The Central Message of my business is: “Public Speaking is a Learnable set of Skills”. that the jump from “Speaking in Public” to “Public Speaking” is trivial when compared to the personal jump each has already made.