“If you’re not going to speak up,
how is the world supposed to know you exist?”
Walt Grassl’s Stand Up & Speak Up is a talk show for sharing the stories of people who have taken a series of small steps to overcome their fears and now lead new, more fulfilling lives. Are you afraid to take that first step towards a different life?
In 2006, if you had walked into my office and told me that I would ever perform stand-up comedy at the Hollywood Improv and the Flamingo in Las Vegas, I would have called security because there was a crazy person in my office. I was an introverted engineering manager with a fear of public speaking. One day, I was addressing my department of 100 design engineers — my voice trembled, my hands and legs shook and my mind went blank. This happened numerous times in various settings. I had classic stage fright.
This deficiency came up during a performance review and it was suggested I join Toastmasters. Fifteen years before, I had heard about Toastmasters but chose not to take that first step. This time, I did … but I only spoke 4 times in 16 months. I signed up for humorous speaking boot camp, hoping to find a breakthrough. I could write the exercises but froze up on stage when asked to deliver a simple joke that I wrote. I was told to try an open mic night … that “once you get a few laughs, you won’t be afraid.” I initially thought, no way. But I took that next step when I heard about a stand-up class. I took the class and graduation was a performance at the Hollywood Improv. I was so scared before going on stage, but afterward I felt such a high. Conquering that fear made the fear of speaking smaller. I then spoke often and competed in speech contests every chance I got. Then I tried improv and sketch comedy.
In addition to sharing my stories, I will have guests from the speaking, improv and stand-up worlds. I will also have guests who were, at one time, held back by fear, but chose to face their fears and are now enjoying new careers or pastimes.