Fear doesn’t recognise nationalities; nor does it understand cultures or languages. Instead, it finds a comfortable home in whoever suffers from shyness, social anxiety or a stutter. At Kings Speakers, of course, we learn to look fear in the eyes, and smile. But what about those who live thousands of miles away and cannot attend the club?
If people cannot come to Kings, then the Kings message can be taken to them. And this is exactly what we do. For many years, I have been fortunate enough to work with charitable organisations in Europe, helping to run courses which range from weekend affairs to 9-day youth camps. These are aimed at those who stutter, coaching them to become more confident communicators, building their self-esteem and changing their belief systems.
One such youth course was last October in a remote forest in northern Italy. Delegates came from countries as varied as Iceland, Israel, Portugal, Holland, Italy, and of course, the UK. A group of about 25 adults, aged between 18-26 assembled nervously on the first day. The tension, anxiety and sense of anticipation was radiating from their faces, as they arrived, not knowing what to expect. But what followed was a whirlwind of interactive workshops, games, outdoor pursuits, and experiences all aimed at helping the delegates to grow in confidence. Although there were workshops in public speaking, body language, building connections, understanding fear etc, there was no classroom, no blackboard, no lecture notes. In fact, there were no lectures. Everything was interactive; everything was done outdoors, under rustling trees and the whistling wind. And in the evenings, people took turns to help cook, and the communal dinner was decorated with friendships, laughter and Italian house wine. Then of course, there was an after-dinner party every night…..and for those people like me, who have the dancing ability of a three-legged donkey, there was the option to chill in theforest, enjoy conversation and connection, with the Milky Way glimmering overhead and the night creatures singing their chorus. And like this, the nine days quickly disappeared in a colourful blur.
The delegates may have arrived nervous and unsure, but they left the camp with hope and excitement and new friends.
The skills I have learnt at Kings Speakers are helping me to run such workshops. Kings Speakers may be a public speaking club, but like all Toastmasters clubs, it’s much more than that. It’s a personal growth program. It’s a fear-destroying program. It’s a belief-system changing program. Public speaking just happens to be the medium. And fear? If fear is the disease, then personal growth is the cure. And it works for every nationality, and every culture.
I am proud to be part of Kings Speakers and to help spread the message.