Fear of Public Speaking?

One of the things we do at The Christophers is run Leadership Courses in New York City (the next one starts April 18th) and a few other states (click here for more information). The courses were created many years ago by our founder, Father James Keller, who believed that people with Judeo-Christian values and ideals would often let the opportunity to speak up and become leaders pass them by because they were uncomfortable speaking in public. In light of the statistic that people are more afraid of public speaking than of death, that still holds true today.

In a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, the Christopher Leadership Course helps students deal with that fear and build their interpersonal communication skills. One of the Course’s tag lines is that it won’t get rid of the butterflies in your stomach, but it will help those butterflies fly in formation. As a graduate of the Course myself, I can say it’s an effective, entry-level way to push past the boundaries that fear surrounds you with.

Pasted below is a note that Fran Fiorino, a Course graduate and former instructor, sent to Pam Hammond, the Course’s national coordinator. Fran is an aviation freelance writer-editor living in the Washington, DC area and continues to be a Christopher candlelighter.

Dear Pam, If your ears were ringing lately, it’s because you and The Christopher Leadership Course were prominent in my thoughts. The course’s blessings just keep on tickin’ in every aspect of life. Most recently I (as aviation journalist) was asked to serve as moderator of a panel discussion at a major annual aviation forecast conference.

Hmmm, moderator of a panel of four aviation experts on a stage before an audience of 100+ in a ballroom at the Washington DC Convention Center. Discussing challenges of aviation in a global economy. Lights, camera, action! We were the closing act of the first day plenary sessions led by aviation luminaries.

Wow, those butterflies were flying in every which direction. But all that was taught came bubbling to the top. Funny, the one warm-up that wanted to come through was “I am only one, but I am one…..”

The four panelists were a lively bunch (talk about blessings!–you know how deadly panel discussions can be) ) and we were able to meet beforehand and discuss general direction we wanted to travel in. We unanimously agreed to keep audience needs in mind, what info would help make a difference in their respective businesses.

Then, as advertised, the butterflies started flying in formation. Zoom, zoom. I was pilot in command of the squadron. Feedback was very positive and we were told our panel was the liveliest and most informative one of the bunch. Ironically–and I mention this for interesting choice of words– one of the conference planners wrote to say she was very impressed by my “leadership” of the panel. One can only smile at that one, thinking back to cowering in back of the room during my first Christopher class. I give thanks every day for the course and its gifts of courage and confidence — and the beautiful souls we meet on the Christophers’ path.

Since we last spoke, I was downsized in mid 2010 after 18 years’ attachment. Since then I have been leading a saner, more balanced life working as an aviation freelance writer-editor while taking art classes and doing some volunteer work with a small group that sings (sometimes out of tune:-) at senior facilities.

Thanks for the note and kind words, Fran. For more information on the Christopher Leadership Course, visit our website.

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.


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