Speaking to huge audiences on the radio was an important step to overcoming my fear of public speaking.
It is one thing to speak to a microphone and one or two others in a studio. Standing in front of a crowd or on a stage is something else.
I cracked it by starting small:
- a small crowd,
- a short talk
- and an easy topic.
My first official public speaking engagement was for a local computer company in Wellington, New Zealand. The company had regular evening events with food and drink for its customers and would invite speakers.
The company’s managing director asked me to talk for about 20 minutes on my work as a technology journalist. I can talk on this subject about for hours.
Thankfully, the audience was unintimidating, maybe 25 or so people and the mood was friendly.
When I finished a discussion started which went on for almost another hour — I didn’t realise until afterwards that I chaired the discussion keeping things moving along when it flagged. I just did what came naturally.
Over the next few months I had a few similar speaking engagements, the audiences remained small, but the session length and topics would be different. After around five or six events I was comfortable enough to tackle a larger crowd.