In many surveys, the fear of public speaking is ranked higher than death. Despite the anxiety associated with speaking to groups, many of us are required by our careers or service work to speak regularly in front of groups of people. So, with heart racing, palms sweating, and hands shaking, and an internal exhortation of “once more unto the breach” we move to the front of the room and dive in.
Toastmasters can definitely help you polish your skills and learn to be more comfortable and effective when speaking in public, but for those of you that feel the stress every time you stand up to speak, take heart. Recent research indicates that stress can be your friend.
In her book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It, author/ researcher Dr. Kelly McGonigal dispels many of the myths surrounding stress, presents the latest research results, and provides examples of how changing your mindset can allow you to harness the physical effects of stress to improve performance.
For a brief introduction to some of her findings (and an opportunity to see a high caliber speech), check out the TED talk below by Dr. Kelly McGonigal: