When I was in the 12th grade, my English teacher assigned book reports. We were required to give a five-minute summary of the assigned book. A girl was to present just before my turn. As she stood before the class to speak, she started to stutter and wobble. She then fainted and hit the floor at my feet on the front row. After she awoke and was taken to the nurse’s office, my teacher said it was my turn. Gripped with fear, I refused. She threatened a failing grade. No problem, fail me. I received a “D” for the class that year, but that was fine with me. There was no way I would stand up before the class to speak.
After leaving school and starting a career in sales three years later, it became apparent that I couldn’t escape public speaking. I joined Toastmasters to overcome my fears. I was told that I was the worst speaker they had ever met, but since I’m so competitive I stuck with it. After three years of weekly meetings, I was volunteering for speaking engagements, ultimately being named as the top speaker in the state of Florida by a business organization.
Public speaking has served my career well. I’ve given over 2,000 speeches and have built a very successful practice as a result of being able to effectively address an audience.
There are numerous venues that will be glad to have interesting speakers. Many clubs have annual events that could use good speakers with an interesting topic, such as investing. There are senior centers that need a speaker every month to spice things up a bit. There are travel clubs, women’s clubs, service organizations, business clubs, fairs, swap meets, festivals, hospitals, military events and many others. As an effective speaker, you can become popular event at referral clubs.