By Mark Skipper
You are asking yourself, “Who is Ringo?” He was the baddest dog on the block, when I was a kid growing up on Linwood Avenue in Detroit. Ringo looked like a ferocious lion. Story had it, Ringo was captured in the dangerous jungles of Tanzania.
One day, Ringo broke his chain and leaped onto the porch where my friends and I were shooting the breeze. Petrified, I backed up too fast, hit my head on the brick wall and blacked out. When I woke, my buddies said Ringo walked over to me, sniffed and kept on walking. I thought for sure, I would have been dead meat. My fear along with my active imagination, made Ringo out to be far worse than he actual was. My fear and imagination distorted reality.
As an adult, I ran from speaking in front of groups, just as I did as a kid running from Ringo. But, like when I hit my head on the brick wall, things changed after getting my first job. I had no choice, but to face my fear and speak. You probably know what happened. Like with Ringo, I found my fear and imagination had distorted reality.
After speaking a few times, I discovered that I didn’t die. And guess what, you won’t either.
Each time I stood up to speak, it got easier than the last. The rumbling in my stomach, the discomfort that all eyes are on me and the feeling that I am having a heart attack all began to subside. Volunteer to stand up and speak as much as you can. Speak at work, at the organizations you volunteer, at church and even at family functions. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
The lesson I learned that day on Linwood, has made a tremendous impact on my speaking growth and this lesson can do the same for you. The combination of fear and imagination is always worse than reality. Remember this and stop running from Ringo!
Mark A. Skipper is the 2017 Toastmasters District 6 World Champion of Public Speaking and the founder of Speak Better Than Your CEO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.