Imagine that right now, without time to prepare, you are asked to stand up and give a speech. Are your hands sweating? Are you stuttering your words?
This is one of the greatest fears people can have, even greater than death itself for some, studies have found. According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States, 74 per cent of people suffer from speech anxiety also called glossophobia.
Yet effective communication can in many circumstances be crucial, as Matthew Pegg, Chief of the Toronto Fire Services, points out.
“As leaders, it is our responsibility to bring a sense of calm to emergency situations by ensuring that we communicate effectively with the public,” Chief Pegg says.
Pegg will be giving a speech about Leadership and Effective Communication on Mon., May 1, at a Rexdale Toastmasters club, part of an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping a wide diversity of people with improved speaking skills.
Andy Semotiuk, president of In-Pace Toastmaster Club, another Etobicoke-based group, says that being a leader is to lead by example, and he notes Pegg demonstrates this exact belief.
“When you are fighting a fire, you have to work as a team, so I’m sure he has some good stories that can relate to that. He has the credential to teach us something about leadership and also the ability to be an effective communicator,” Semotiuk says.
Shauntal Chambers-Cadore, president of Unleash Your Potential Toastmasters club, says overcoming her fear of public speaking was the first step needed to professional and personal growth.
“I am more confident, enthusiastic and open to new opportunities which in the past I would have easily turned down. I am not the same person and I owe it to the skills I learned through becoming a Toastmaster,” Chambers- Cadore says.
Semotiuk recognizes public speaking courses are being taken out of school curriculums and students don’t see public speaking as important of a skill as they once did.
“When they have communication courses, they are tied to their field, instead of teaching general effective public speaking,” he says.
Communication in the 21st century is seriously affected by more people using acronyms and abbreviations increasingly in conversation, creating less formality, he adds.
Chief Pegg will speak at 7:00 p.m. at the Rexdale Community Hub, located at 21 Panorama Court in Rexdale. Admission is free.