Any muscle gets atrophied without practice and the speaking one is no exception.
As a yet unrecovered shy I have always spent a quite big amount of time on my own or when in company, barely participating in the conversations. This resulted in a dramatic lack of practice on my social skills and therefore in a crippled speaking skills (I speak on my own sometimes but this doesn’t count, the conversations with myself never have any unsuspected turn).
I guess it’s common for shy people to isolate themselves because they don’t feel comfortable around other people. I have always spent many hours alone, reading, walking with my earphones while I was daydreaming about a great social life.
I’m afraid this is counterproductive: first, because one spend so much time alone that the people skills one may have get crippled and second, because while fantasizing one lives a lie not realizing the importance of the problem.
Do some stretches
I am well aware of that, that’s the reason why I don’t allow myself to stay at home or on my own so much, I try to expose myself to social situations and try my best (sometimes) to interact with at least one person in the room. The more interaction with people, the less difficult it seems and the better you get at doing it.
I’m taking my shyness as my lack of flexibility, I try to stretch every day and some days I really see the improvement.
You are not a clairvoyant. Stop reading minds!
One of my problems when I am having a conversation with someone is that I am more focused in what the other person might be thinking about me and my interventions or my appearance than I am focused in what that person is saying, which is a problem because how on earth are you going to follow the conversation if your mind if “reading” the body language and what is said between lines? The only thing you should do is listening what the other person is saying and forget about all the rest! I tried to do this and it makes such a big difference.
Free yourself from absurd pride and perfectionism
Finally I must confess that one of the main reasons of my shyness is the lack of confidence in socializing. I know I am bad interlocutor, ergo I don’t want to show my poor performance to anybody. Here underlies a problem of perfectionism and pride. What is going on in my head is: I want to be a great speaker but since I am not, I don’t want anybody to perceive it.
Fear of critics? Maybe. But by not allowing yourself to do a mediocre performance there is no chance you will improve and become that great speaker you want to become.
Everyday work: avoid slackness
Overcome shyness is an everyday task. In the same way your muscles get flabby if you don’t work out, the social skills will be crippled if you don’t work on them.
In my case, I feel I am always working on it but each day I face a challenging situation I feel a bit anxious. If there is no improvement, there is stagnation and here is where I think I find myself: I improved enough to make friends and go unnoticed (and go unnoticed is a good thing when you have spent all secondary school being called “the mute”). But, let’s face it, go unnoticed is not good enough and I won’t resign myself to that anymore.
I’m determined to give the final push to overcome my shyness for ever and ever.
I already have set personal daily goals in this matter (I’ll let you know how they go when I have something to say in this regard).
But I ask you for help, what kind of activities I can practice (I’m already looking for a theatre course) or groups I can join? Any way to interact with people online? I’m going to move in a couple of weeks or so, that’s why I don’t want to bind myself with anything that requires my physical attendance to any particular place, unless the activity is really, really worth it…