Do you fear public speaking? Does this fear make you want to run away from every opportunity and avoid it if possible? I’ve been training entrepreneurs to become confident in public speaking and getting in front of a large audience (even up to over 6000 people plus). One thing that is common and constant is having this fear.
If you are wondering how you can have more confidence and courage to start seizing public speaking opportunities, here are three things you should do:
1. Avoid negative self-talk
As you get ready to give a talk, have you ever felt a wave of fears, self-doubt, and physical sensations? Your heart starts racing, your chest feels like it’s tightening up, and you start to have difficulty thinking. These physical sensations and negative thoughts happen once the self-stigma comes in.
You look around the audience thinking, “Why can’t I do this? Why am I having these fears? Why does nobody else here feels the same way I feel? What is happening to me?” Well, spoiler alert: Pretty much every one of those speakers on that panel has the same fear you have. As someone who has coached top speakers for many years, I can tell you that fear is a normal thing for everyone.
The fear of failure and fear of not being good enough are so common, but do you know what matters? Having courage! Courage is taking action in the face of fear. It is what’s going to help you move forward and overcome.
The self-stigma has to be reduced first. Instead of beating yourself up, focus on what you’re proud of yourself for. Tell yourself that the fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears there is. It’s not a life sentence, but something very normal.
The only thing that makes a difference is how courageous you are to take action. So change that negative self-talk and focus on what it is you’re doing well. Doing so will empower you to move forward.
2. Run towards your fear.
As you start moving forward, you have to deal with your fears. Often, people who have the fear of public speaking want to run away from it. They will say no to every opportunity and make up excuses.
I used to struggle with panic attacks and anxiety in my personal life for many years. I know how it feels and the instinct is to run. We don’t want to deal with it so we keep on avoiding it. The next thing you know, you had tremendous missed opportunities. You also build up a tremendous amount of armor to keep people away from seeing the soft center inside you due to your fear of being vulnerable.
When fear comes up, most people want to run away. What I urge you to do is instead is run towards the fear. Running away will only make it worse. You’ll get more fear and more anticipatory anxiety for next time. Be the type of person that steps into your fear and deal with it!
3. Embrace your fears.
I often run “Speak with Confidence” training where we create a type of safe container for people to show up, open up, be heard, and let their guard down. Many of them are successful in business and still feel they are not good enough. They share their feelings, cry, and feel vulnerable. They realize they are surrounded by a group of people that are just like them, having the same thoughts, the same fears, and the same insecurities.
If you are just able to read the minds of people you look up to, I guarantee you that they feel the same way you feel. Like you, they go to bed at night with different types of fears. As they put themselves out there, they are overwhelmed with a wave of insecurities too.
What will you do with your fears?
Bear in mind that you are not alone. Part of the human experience is having fears and insecurities. The only difference is what you do with it. Are you going to run away from it, let it build up, and allow yourself to lose more opportunities? Or are you going to run towards your fears, embrace them, and take a step forward?
If you embrace your fears, I promise you that it is for your own good. It will amazingly transform you. Your confidence will grow and you are going to make it happen! But more than that, you are going to make a bigger impact on this planet by permitting yourself to share your voice, be heard, be seen, and inspire other people. After all, that is what this whole journey is about – being honest and sharing your authentic voice.