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Can Shy People Get "Un-Shy?"

Roy Coughlan — A Story of Transformation:  Shy to Successful 

I had another Very Interesting Person on my podcast the other day.  Roy Coughlan.  Roy is an amazing guy.  He runs 5 very successful podcasts and has won a number of awards in various Toastmasters’ competitions around the world.  He is an internationally known speaker through Toastmasters, and also an incredible podcast guest because he doesn’t just sit there and wait for the interviewer to do all the work.  He actually contributes and volunteers information and generally knows his way around what makes for an interesting interview.  It is clear that this guy has a lot of speaking chops and performing skills.  He’s relaxed, he’s informative, he’s charismatic.  (And wait until you hear his accent!)  You would never guess that at one point in his life he was paralyzed by fear of any public speaking.  Like, he couldn’t order in restaurants.  He couldn’t belly up to the bar in a pub and order a lager.  He was terrified.

One story he told was about his childhood.  When it was time for out loud reading during school, where the teacher went around the class asking the students to read a sentence or two out loud, Roy would freeze in terror.  Because he was so frightened, naturally he didn’t do very well at the task.  And instead of being warm and supporting, the teacher responded by berating him, implied he was stupid and said that her grandmother could read better than him and she was dead.  Can you imagine?  This response from a teacher in a position of authority completely traumatized him, and instead of making Roy want to practice reading aloud, only discouraged him from reading at all.

This is a perfect example of a failure in the emotional and social support arena, which is my area of expertise.  Instead of noticing that Roy was having a problem which needed a solution, his teacher instead berated him and tore down his self confidence.  She did not address Roy’s needs and try to support and encourage him and figure out how to help him.  I would call her a failure at teaching instead of how Roy perceived it, that he was a failure at learning.  Emotional and social support in the teaching profession is so important.  Learning and intelligence is all about self-confidence and self perception.  If you get a sign hung on you as a child that you are a poor student, that damage to your self-esteem can sometimes be irreparable. 

But Roy did not let his fear keep him down.  Eventually he became very cognizant of the fact that his fear of speaking up was a weakness.  It’s been shown in studies that those who have loud speaking voices and who aren’t afraid to use them, get more attention, get more approval and generally get listened to more often and what they say is valued more.  So, for example, higher volume speakers receive raises more often, not necessarily because their work is better but because they talk like their work is better.  They come off as more confident, more knowledgeable, and, get this, they come off this way even if it’s not true.  Even if it isn’t true that loud speakers know more, have better work product or have better leadership skills, people think they do.  And all because they speak at a high volume.  (Explains a lot of politicians, don’t you think?)

Roy decided that he’d had enough of being quiet and shy.  So he joined Toastmasters International (toastmasters.org).  You know the group:  it’s a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs.  (And get this, I just learned that their international headquarters is in Englewood, Colorado, right outside Denver, where I live.  Cool, huh?  Well, at least cool to me.)  I know a lot of people in my business as a speaking professional who got their start through Toastmasters.  It’s an amazing organization.  And you know what?  Their methods really work!

Roy really embraced Toastmasters.  He joined a club and signed up for everything.  He signed up for all the classes, he went to all the meetings, he filled in when people canceled last minute, he did everything he could with the group in order to face his fears and get past what he felt was holding him back from really doing what he wanted to do with his life.  And like I said before, it worked!  Roy is an amazing success at public speaking and interviewing and bringing quiet people out of their shells.  He is testament to the belief that anyone can overcome their fears with the right motivation and support.

Thanks Roy Coughlan for being on my podcast and letting us know your story.  It’s an important lesson that’s often overlooked.  Sometimes if you don’t get enough emotional and social support from those around you, you may have to join a group who can provide that for you.  A group like Toastmasters.  And if they do it right, they can lift up a quiet, shy kid or adult and turn them into someone they never thought they could be.

If you want to be better at offering both emotional and social support to yourself and to others, check out my website:  bradmontgomery.com.  This important message about emotional and social support has the potential to revolutionize your workplace, your home life and even your self-image.  Check out my motivational speech topics that can literally change the way you see your self, your workmates and your friends and family.  Thanks for listening!

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Biography of a Motivational Speaker

Bio of a Motivational Speaker

Funny Motivational Keynote Speaker Brad Montgomery is an award-winning speaker.   He speaks to audiences across the globe (and across the USA), and is based in Denver, Colorado.

Although he speaks to audiences in nearly every industry, he is known as a funny health care speaker, a education speaker for teachers, a real estate speaker, and a sales speaker.   He got his start as a magician & comedian, but now is known almost exclusively as keynote speaker.

He speaks both at live, in-person events, as well as online and virtually as a zoom speaker. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish with your audience, if you’re ready to invest in your people, give us a call now.

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