I really don’t know how I get myself into these situations. It isn’t like I volunteer! I guess I’ve learned to put myself out there, and I have made my opinions known, but that didn’t mean I wanted to teach, give speeches, nor be the leader!
How far I’ve come. Once upon a long time ago, I was given vocal lessons to help raise the volume of my voice. I was quiet, and very soft-spoken. I was shy. Painfully, life limiting, shy. I was so shy, that you could know me for years, and never hear my voice, nor know my name. When I realized this fact, I knew I had to take action, and start putting myself out there. Working with others, as a helper not a leader, got me comfortable enough with others that I could begin to open up.
There was only one type of situation where I found my voice.
I found my voice when I felt a strong opinion, which I could back up with research. I listen to endless hours of reports, listen to conversations and the evaluation of others, do my independent research, and filter all I’ve heard and read through my beliefs. I have well-formed, well-reasoned, and well-thought out opinions. Only then will I put myself forward with an opinion. I found that most people just don’t care for my opinion, unless they agree with me.
The struggle to become a better communicator, in an effort to overcome shyness, led me to go to college, study communication, and take on the roll of a reporter. Having the roll of asking questions, trying to understand what people mean, and summarizing it for others, helped me to overcome my fears.
There were some other exercises in talking to people which contributed to my transformation. I have achieved so much success in overcoming my shyness, others no longer think of me as shy. I can talk to other people, even groups. I learned the simple key to communicating with others. Preparation.
I was so nervous during my first speech that I froze. Now I write down everything I want to say. When I call someone, I write down everything I want to say, including my name, so I won’t forget. When talking to a group, even a small group, I write detailed notes with written out transitions from one section to another.
I went to a conference, and near the end the leaders asked, who is going to take this information back to your groups. Everyone at my table said, “April should do it.”
Bottom line – I’m no longer shy. I’ve gotten a reputation. A good reputation as a good communicator. I’ve gone from sitting shyly in the back row, to being at the podium. Of course, I told them to tell me where to go, and I would be ready.