Twelve step groups can provide a great support system for people that are on the road to recovery from an addiction. However, one of the foundations for recovery and main strategies of groups like AA is speaking to the rest of group of about personal issues. People who have problems with public speaking may feel intimidating by the idea of talking in front of a group about private things that they are dealing with.
Speaking in front of a group of people can seem frightening to some that are more introverted or socially anxious in that type of situation. Although they might want to do the work of recovery the concept of talking in front of people could deter them from attending AA meetings which could hinder their progress. If you are nervous about public speaking it can be something that you work on to overcome in order to focus on the highest priority which is getting sober.
Even though you dislike public speaking, if your goal is to do everything you can to quit your addiction then you may be able to adjust the feeling of speaking in front of a group. Over time you will get to know many of the people in your AA group and will become more comfortable talking to them as friends. The important thing to remember is that no one is there to judge you either on your personal issues or your speaking abilities but they are there to provide support, compassion and care for one another.
Take Steps to Become More Comfortable
If you feel overwhelmed by having to speak in front of others it can be helpful to break the process down into smaller steps. Before you gather up the courage to speak in front of the group you can find a smaller group of one or two people at the meetings to talk to first. You can practice talking about your addiction and introducing yourself to a few people at a time.
As you get to know more people at the AA meetings you might slowly be less intimidated by speaking because you will feel that you have more friends and people that care about your progress out in the audience. Instead of speaking in front of a room full of strangers you can have a few people in the group that you can focus on to boost your confidence overall.
Another important part of speaking in front of others is being prepared with what you want to say. Although speaking spontaneously can be comfortable for some, others who struggle with public speaking often feel better about the situation when they know exactly what they are going to say. You can even rehearse what you are going to say beforehand so that you don’t end up stumbling or feeling embarrassed in front of the group.
As part of the initial steps of speaking in front of the group you can make your first public introduction very brief and eventually expand on what you say the next time you decide to talk in front of the group. A short introduction can help you get your feet wet and adjust to how it feels to talk at meetings.
Understanding the Purpose of Sharing in AA
As you take steps to increase your comfort level with speaking it can also be helpful to understand what speaking at AA is all about. It is not the same as a public performance or a presentation where you will be judged on your effectiveness. In fact, no one in the audience will judge you because they are all going through many of the same feelings and want to support you no matter what.
Sharing during AA is not about being entertaining, interesting or even being a great speaker. It is about relating personal stories that you may have kept secret from others because they felt shameful. Speaking at AA is about a cathartic release of emotions and finally being honest with others about your experiences with addiction.
You can think of AA as a place where you can feel safe to be yourself and talk about the things that you felt afraid to share for years. It can be like a kind of group therapy where you are able to get support and feedback from people that want the best for you. When you understand the need for speaking at AA you can consider it as a healing opportunity and not something that you need to feel nervous or embarrassed about.
Public speaking is a common fear that people deal with in different situations but in AA it should not stop you from sharing with other people in the group. Speaking in AA can potentially be a life changing experience and you should never avoid it because of your fears.