My BNI® Story

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Confessions of a Recovering Glossophobic

By: BNI Staff
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    My BNI® Story

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    BNI Staff

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Submitted by Laura Cooper, Streamline with Style, Queen City BNI, BNI Vermont  

Whenever I tell my fellow chapter members that I’m afraid of public speaking, they’re surprised. They tell me they would never have known. 

How did they not notice my trembling hands or hear the shakiness in my voice during my Weekly Presentation? 

The greatest fear common to humans is the fear of public speaking. There is even a scientific name for it: glossophobia. Seventy-five percent of people have reported anxiety about public speaking, slightly above the fear of heights, which is in second place. Amazingly, dying is even further down the list. 

When I attended my first BNI® meeting, I was unaware that I’d have to stand when I spoke. I thought it would be a more informal networking situation. Everyone who spoke before me seemed so relaxed and confident, but I just wanted to get it over with and not sound like a flake. 

Laura Cooper gives a Featured Presentation to Queen City BNI, in South Burlington, Vermont

Since I want public speaking to become part of my business in the future, I figured the more opportunities I had to practice, the better and thus, I took a giant leap of faith and filled out an application for membership after the meeting. 

The Weekly Presentations were nerve-racking enough. Then when I heard about the 10 minute presentations to follow, I thought, “What did I get myself into?!” As the weeks went by, I became more comfortable speaking in front of my chapter members. Still, I was anxious about giving my feature presentation. 

I searched “BNI Feature Presentation” online and, lo and behold, there was a link to the BNI Podcast Episode 367: "Doing Your Featured Presentation.” There, Dr. Ivan Misner shared that he too gets nervous speaking, even though he gives 75 to 100 keynote speeches a year. 

Of Dr. Misner's suggestions, the tip that made the greatest impression on me was to get creative. I decided to make my first feature presentation an interactive game. So, after countless hours of preparation and armed with an array of props, I arrived at my meeting full of excitement and anxiety. All of my efforts paid off. The 10 minutes flew by! Not to pat myself on the back, but my first BNI feature presentation was a smashing success! 

And then, throwing caution to the wind, I decided to become a BNI Ambassador, which involved even more presentations and, even worse, to people I didn’t know. By the time you read this, I will have given my second feature presentation, which I am anxiously in the midst of preparing, and three Ambassador presentations. While I still dread speaking in public, I’m leaps and bounds more comfortable with it than I was before joining BNI, so I’m very thankful to this organization for challenging this recovering glossophobic and helping me to become a less fearful and more confident public speaker.