More than death, dismemberment, or dog bites, the No.1 fear of American adults is public speaking.
The Miami-Dade Public Library System is partnering with Sarasota author Liz Coursen to change that. On Aug. 15 Coursen will be offering her hour-long workshop, “Public Speaking 101: Finding the Ham Within,” at the Kendall and Homestead library branches.
“This workshop will provide people with the tools to conquer their fears about speaking in public, whether in their business or private lives,” Coursen said.
The nine-time author spent most of her life terrified of having to get up and “say a few words.”
“Even at family gatherings, I couldn’t offer a toast because I was too afraid. On the rare occasion when I did get up, I was the person who stuttered and stammered,” she recalled. “Now I speak professionally in public 80-100 times a year. My hardwon confidence has impacted me both professionally and personally in ways that are hard to describe.”
“Finding the Ham Within” focuses on how people can use their most difficult times and personal experiences to develop speech topics that they can talk about with conviction, confidence, and humor.
“I got the idea for ‘The Ham Within’ when a friend gave a humorous and inspirational speech about being born with one eye,” Coursen said.
“I thought, if she talk about such a remarkable personal challenge and make it funny, I can too. So I put together a speech about how I was so poor in college that I wore used men’s shoes, and I had people rolling in the aisles. Gaining confidence in my ability to communicate hasn’t been just game changing, it’s been life changing. I can help other people do what I’ve done.”
For Coursen, the day in Miami will kick off the most significant 24 hours of her public speaking career.
“I present these two workshops in Miami and then drive to Orlando to accept a medal for my fifth book, Shade in the Sunshine State: Reflections on Segregation in Florida. The next morning, I’m the lector in my church. Five years ago, I never would have imagined this could happen to me.”
The Kendall branch workshop starts at 11 a.m. and the Homestead workshop starts at 2 p.m.
Kendall Branch Library is located at 9101 SW 97 Ave.; phone 305-279-0520, and Homestead Branch Library, 700 N. Homestead Blvd., phone 305-246-0168.