Your palms are sweaty.
Knees weak, arms are heavy…
All Eminem references aside, anxiety is a real issue that holds you back from becoming the most confident version of yourself.
And as psychologist Nathaniel Branden once said,
“the first step towards change is awareness.”
So today, I’ll help you break down the top 5 public speaking fears so you can identify where your fear is coming from.
Let’s get right into it…
1. Speaking To Large Audiences
Maybe in a 1 on 1 or in a small group group setting you’re very comfortable, you’re very confident, and you feel good about yourself.
But as soon as it gets to 15, 20, 35 people or more, you start getting really nervous.
You start getting really anxious with all these eyes on you. You start feeling all the spotlight. You’re the center of attention and it just starts to freak you out. It’s as if every micro movement you make is feeling noticed, and you feel heavily on guard. You feel your heart racing, you get overwhelmed with all these eyes on you and it just makes you very afraid.
This is a very common fear, and I have clients that come to me with this all the time.
For example, I have a client that works for a telecommunications company. She had great ideas in her small group meetings, but as soon as she was in front of a larger board, she would be quiet.
She would hold back from sharing her ideas and her boss would say, “Hey, why don’t you share them? You have so much amazing information and ideas. Why do you never share in front of the larger setting?”
She would say to him, “Look in front of this big audience. I just get really uncomfortable, I hate having everyone staring at me, and I get so afraid that I don’t share.” and that’s why she sought my help to break her from that.
If that’s you, here’s what you need to do:
Reframe the situation.
When everyone’s eyes are on you, it can be fear provoking, often from the fears of making a mistake, being exposed as not being “good enough” and ruining your reputation… just remember:
You’re speaking because you’ve earned it, and you’re there because you can add value.
2. Blanking Out
Let’s say you’ve said yes to a speaking opportunity.
You’re in front of an audience.
You start thinking, “But what happens if I blank out? What happens if I get up there and start to stutter or blank out and my mind just shuts down? I’ll just be humiliated.”
This is also very common fear for people that typically happens just before you hit the stage.
You’re freaking out about blanking out, and what happens is you then you show up to your presentation already defeated because you’ve built up so much fear before you hit the stage.
You end up depleted energetically, and this actually increases your chances of blanking out.
People blank out because their mind is racing so here’s what you can do to calm your mind:
Embrace the power of the pause.
Pausing is a fantastic way to slow your mind down. Plus, it gives you time to think of what to say next!
It’ll feel awkward at first, but do it and you’ll see the effects. You’ll have more clarity of what to say next and you’ll appear ten times more engaging to your the audience.
Trust me. And like Nike says, just do it!
3. Not Being Liked
Not being liked by an audience. This comes up so often.
What happens is you get up there, you’re looking at this audience, 20, 30, 50 people in, and you think to yourself, “Oh my God, I really want to be liked by everyone”.
You may not say these words to yourself consciously, but you definitely feel it.
You start noticing that one person who’s on their phone or somebody who’s writing down and looking distracted, and it at a subconscious level you’re thinking “Why don’t they like me?”
The reason this comes up is because you’ve given up your power. You’re coming from a place of wanting to be a people pleaser.
Now, you might say “Well Lucas, I’m a good person. I’m nice. I care about other people, so I care about what they think.”
While that may be true, the question you have to ask yourself is:
Are there some people pleasing aspects underlying your intentions that might be stealing your power and your confidence and holding you back?
So, the quicker you can drop this fear and own that you can’t win over the entire audience, and you don’t want to – that’s when you start taking your power back.
4. Embarrassing Yourself
A client of mine once said to me, “I have a good reputation. I’ve spent years building up this reputation. What happens if I get up there in front of an audience, and I give a talk that doesn’t go well? That’s going to ruin my reputation. I’m going to embarrass myself. And if I embarrass myself, I’m going to miss this opportunity that I should have maximized.”
Are there talks that maybe don’t go as planned? Yes.
But don’t let that stop you. Especially as you’re practising to build that skill set.
For example, our trainings are conducted in a closed, safe environment. It’s a small group, and we spend a lot of time with you getting these embarrassing mistakes out of the way. That way, you’re able to step up and be professional and polished when you’re actually in front of a live audience.
But perhaps more importantly, is that your audience doesn’t remember you.
And it’s not because you’re not good enough (see fear #5 below).
It’s just that in today’s age, technology is so integrated into our lives that the moment your talk is over, the first thing your crowd does as they walk out is grab their phone to check their emails, text messages, and missed calls.
A lot of times, we overestimate the amount of focus and attention that your audience has on you after your talk. But the reality is once you’re done, they’re onto the next thing.
So let’s drop that fear of embarrassing yourself. That fear of missing the opportunity.
5. Not Being Good Enough
The fifth and last fear that comes up is a pretty powerful one – we can often use this fear to “logically” justify why we shouldn’t deliver a talk.
It’s the deep fear that you’re not good enough, not credible enough, and/or not experienced enough.
And it holds people back because they’re constantly questioning themselves with things like:
- “What if other people have built me up to be a bigger expert than I really am?”
- “What if I get exposed or somebody in the audience questions my thoughts and I don’t know how to answer their question?”
There is so much fear and anxiety that builds up from this, that you either miss opportunities or your stress levels are so high that you have sleepless nights and it takes your energy away when you do get up to speak.
I once had a client that was very accomplished. She had a PHD and two Master’s degrees.
I asked her “What’s the big fear?”, to which she replied “I just don’t think I’m credible enough.” With the knowledge I had about her existing qualifications I asked her “What else do you need? What other qualifications could you possibly get?”
She replied, “Well, I’d like to have a bit more under my belt.”
“No.” I said, shaking my head from left to right. “Because no training, no certification is going to change how credible you feel.”
The fear of not feeling we’re good enough isn’t determined by external forces.
But when you go internal and you see that what you say matters – that’s when you give yourself permission to start sharing your message in a bigger way.
You’re Not Alone
So that’s the top 5 public speaking fears – speaking to large audiences, blanking out, not being liked, embarrassing yourself and not being good enough.
And if you’re reading this article, ticking these boxes and thinking you’re messed up, that there’s something wrong with you and you’re the only one facing this, I want to let you know something.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you.
The fear of public speaking is the number one, most common fear there is, so there’s nothing wrong with you.
It’s a very common scenario and the question to always keep in mind is, “Can I move forward to become more confident?”, to which the answer to that is always yes.
Step one is identifying what the fears and anxieties are. You can only defeat your enemies if you know them well. After identifying them, that’s when we can move forward. And that’s the purpose of sharing this 5 fears with you.
You also don’t have to do it alone. These fears are so common, yet many of us are unwilling to admit it to others – especially those of you have already established a reputation of some sort.
So if you’d like to work through these fears and start leveling up your business and your life, and you’d like to work together with myself, my team and fellow entrepreneurs with similar values and ambitions, I’d like to invite you to give us a call.
We’ll have a chat to see where you’re at, what you want to work on, and whether we’re the best people to help you. And if we are, awesome – we’ll stop at nothing to ensure you smash through your fears.
Level Up Living