About the presenter Sheila Denny writes, "I am a fun, hardworking, loyal, genuine down to earth Irish ex pat living in The East of England. I will be married 13 years this year (2010) and have one son whom I love more than life itself. I live near the Sea and love to walk along the beach with my Labrador and Family. My interests include going to the Theatre, Music, Gardening, Socialising, Photography, Toastmasters and my deepest passion is to support and raise awareness of the stammering community worldwide. I work in Human Resources for a local charity and thoroughly enjoy my role and the pleasure I get from being part of a worthwhile organisation."

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2010.

I Can Do This

by Sheila Denny
from Norwich, England, UK

Listen to Sheila's Podcast by hitting the above.

It is a simple affirmation but oh so effective when repeated aloud over and over again! I will never ever forget my first night attending a public speaking group called 'Toastmasters'. I had made an initial enquiry by telephone to the President of the club. I engaged in as little conversation as possible with him as I didn't want him to know I stammer, and now I was following up on my intention to join Toastmasters.

I was so pleased that Pam Mertz, who incidentally is also a member of Toastmasters, invited me to share some of my personal journey about dealing with my stammer on her pod cast. It was a great feeling to share experiences so openly with a woman that I have so much in common with.

My Mentor in the McGuire Programme, which is run by recovering stammerers, recommended Toastmasters (TM) to me. I had joined just 5 months prior to this first evening at TM. My Mentor is also a member of TM and strongly advised me to try it as there was no McGuire Support Group in our region at that time and he felt it was good for me to continually push out my comfort zones and face my fear of speaking to groups of people. He also suggested I read a book by Susan Jeffers - 'Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway'. The first time I read this book, I really didn't get it! Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind at the time but I read it later and got really drawn in. I secretly blame Susan Jeffers for the many adrenaline rushes I have had since due to facing fears of speaking to someone or a speaking situation!

As I drove into my first TM meeting that night, I chanted to myself 'I can do this, I can do this'. I really psyched myself up to walk into that room and say 'Hello' to whoever met me at the door. I knew no one at all, so I had no one to run to and sit beside. I had to stand tall and introduce myself in my new McGuire speaking technique, big costal breath with a deep and breathy tone.

'Hi, I am Sheila Denny'.It worked and I was so excited and pleased with myself - that was the first hurdle over! I sat around a table in a room full of 25 people, boardroom style and I was elated that my introduction went well. I was smiling inwardly and plotting my next challenge. I didn't have to wait long because the Table Topic session started and a gentleman said 'any volunteers' ? I found myself putting my hand up because I knew if I waited around and thought about it, I would allow the fear to creep in and I would hold back like I usually do. My topic was to speak about my favourite film for two minutes. Instantly 'Shrek' came into my mind and I spoke about the green guy for two minutes and I really enjoyed it and thought to myself, "Oh no, the time has gone too fast".

I sat down again and was shouting "YES, YES" in my head, mission accomplished. Soon the evening drew to a close and they started to announce winners of particular sessions and when they called out my name as a 'winner' for speaking, I thought they made a mistake but , sure enough the President was beckoning me up to present a trophy to me for winner of the table topic session. I couldn't wait to drive home and tell my family and my mentor that I had won a little trophy for speaking! I am sure I broke all speed limits that night on the journey home. Everyone was so pleased for me and proud of me, I felt proud that night, and to this day, I remember those feelings when I feel down. I got very little sleep that night, my mind was racing, remembering everything that happened that night and everyone's facial expressions and I stared at my little trophy for a very very long time that night.

I couldn't wait to go back to the next meeting, I wanted to feel as good about myself again and my speech that I did the night I won the trophy. I have attended many meetings since and won many trophies along the way and the trophies have gotten bigger too. The friends I have made are invaluable. It is quite amazing that a simple affirmation could have helped me so much to face my worst nightmare of speaking to groups of people and enjoying it!

At one of our meetings, a local journalist came to visit us to see what we were all about. She stayed for the whole meeting. I was especially pleased when she came over to me and asked me about my reasons for joining and how impressed she was that I spoke with deliberate enunciation in a lovely Irish brogue! It was a super feeling to read very positive comments about yourself in an article entitled 'As accustomed as I am'

That night that I chanted to myself 'I can do this' was over five years ago now and I still use this affirmation to this very day.

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2010.

Submitted: August 29, 2010
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