Have you ever heard it said that someone has “the gift of gab?” Do you believe that verbal ability is a gift – something some were born with? How easy is it for you to express yourself in words? Do you have any trouble doing it in front of a group? Do you believe that some people just have the gift of gab while others don’t – and that’s that?
The truth is, the ability to express yourself in language and the ability to speak in front of a group are learned skills, just like pretty much everything else in life. Think back for a moment. Were you encouraged to express yourself as a child? Or were you told that children should be seen and not heard? Did your teachers encourage you to talk or did they try to keep you quiet as much as possible? In other words, did you have a patient and sympathetic audience to help you learn?
Effective speaking to others or to a group is a skill that is learned, step by step. It is built on understanding the subject, experience, and on realizing that the anxiety you feel doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability, but rather that you don’t have the practice. You are at that level of Conscious Incompetence in Noel Burch’s Four Stages of Learning, moving toward Conscious Competence – putting practice to your skills.
If you’d like to improve your ability to express yourself, there is something that you can do. You can use goal-setting, mental and physical rehearsals, and positive affirmations to help. And you can begin building your confidence by taking small steps toward your goal.
Watch people who do it well and learn from them. Watching Ted Talks can provide a wealth of opportunities to learn how others approach their subject matter and their audiences. The most important thing, though, is to believe that you have enormous potential for growth in this area, if you will only act on that belief.