Jerry Seinfeld got big laughs when he observed that studies show people fear public speaking more than death. “That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy,” he quipped.
It appears that statistic is misleading, based on the simple survey question from which it was derived. The survery asked what do you most fear, rather than having people actually rank various common fears.
Nevertheless, glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, is one of the most common of all phobias affecting as many as 75 per cent of people to some degree, yet the vast majority of people have to do it at some point or another.
Do you want to get over that fear, or at least learn how to cope with it? Keith Diduch has a solution. Diduch is vice president of public relations for the local Toastmasters club, Treasure Chest Toastmasters.
“There are still many who aren’t aware there is a club in Yorkton or even aware of what Toastmasters is about,” he said. “We want as much people to know, because we want to instill our city and surrounding communities with confident speakers and leaders.”
The local club has designated February as Membership Building Month.
Toastmasters is an international non-profit educational organization founded in 1924, which now has more than 292,000 members in 14,350 local clubs across 122 countries.
Treasure Chest Toastmasters has been in Yorkton for 31 years. It currently has 16 members, who meet 7 p.m. Wednesdays at SIGN on Broadway. The learning side of the program is two separate tracks, communication and leadership. Members work through the exercises at their own pace taking on different roles at the hour-long meetings as they become ready.
Diduch pointed out that people don’t have to immediately become members, however. The group welcomes visitors who are just curious to find out more.
“Our Toastmaster club is a place where you have constructive criticism, a place to hone your skills, and a place to give you the confidence to overcome your fears and stand up in front of a crowd and say what’s on your mind, to share a message that will benefit others without you dreading the next time you hear the words, ‘can you give a presentation’ or ‘can you lead this group’,” Diduch said.
Diduch knows the benefits as well as anybody.
“I had always been someone who would rather let someone else talk, always waiting for someone else to make a funny joke, or, in high school letting someone else answer the question in class and when I was asked by the teacher, did I ever want to be that fly on the wall,” he said.
He carried that fear through college and into the banking business in which he found it was hindering his progress. He wanted to develop his skills and find a non-intimidating atmosphere in which to practice. He found Toastmasters.
“In these past two years I have been a member of Toastmasters, I have seen a huge change in how I interact with people,” he said. “I am more confident to approach people and to be able to express myself in front of my peers and colleagues.”
Interested parties can contact Delores Moskal (306-620-8424) or Keith Diduch (306-621-8700) for more information.