“The best way I ever found to help someone overcome fear and rapidly develop courage and self-confidence is by speaking before groups. I discovered that when I lost my fear of speaking to audiences, I lost my fear of speaking to individuals, no matter how big and important they were. This training and experience in public speaking got me out of my shell, opened my eyes to my own possibilities, and widened my horizons. It was one of the turning points in my career.”
Frank Bettger, How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling
Many moons ago, when I managed — almost by accident — to get my first book published, my darling mom Dorothy performed one of the many acts of love and support she lavished upon me: She encouraged me to take a Dale Carnegie course.
I was in my twenties, and though I had managed to co-author a book and was very proud of it, I was totally tongue-tied when it came to talking about it. My wise mom, knowing that I had a fierce desire to share what I had learned despite my shyness, pushed me into public speaking. And though it was difficult for me, I persisted.
Week after week, along with others in many walks of life, I got up and spoke. As time went on, I forgot my shyness and became excited about what I wanted to say. I can honestly say that this course changed my life. I realized that if I could convey my enthusiasm and passion, I could reach other people.
As time went on, I grew more confident in this ability — and over the years, it has become a huge source of pleasure and satisfaction to me. As writers, we often labor alone — and yet at some point in our journey, it is so soul-satisfying to share what we know with others.
You may be as shy as I was — and that’s OK. But, trust me, you don’t have to remain that way. Like me, you can come out of your shell and share what you know — through open mike sessions, or talks at a library, or public speaking courses. Never feel that you are too afraid to speak up — just like me, you can step beyond your fear. As Mr. Irving Kizner, my wonderful high-school Latin teacher, wrote in my yearbook: “Speak up! You have so much to say and you say it so well!” I say the same to you: “Speak up! You have so much to say and you say it so well!” Speak up — and write on!