What’s the Real Root and Remedy for the Fear of Public Speaking?

Woman scared of public speaking
Elaine Lung
January 25, 2018

Have you ever hidden in the back of a conference room at a group work meeting because you were afraid to be called on to speak?

When its your turn to speak to a group, does your heart pound, palms sweat, and your mind go blank?

More people fear public speaking than death. It’s not true.

According to a 2011 Gallup poll, more people are like Indiana Jones – they fear snakes more than speaking to groups. Whatever the latest poll reports, snakes, death and public speaking have all ranked in people’s top 10 fears for the past 50 years!

According to a 2015 Bloomburg poll, the top 3 skills that move your career ahead are flexibility, leadership and public speaking.

How do you reconcile your fear with your desire to move ahead?

I’ve felt the failure of public speaking. It was a cold spring day in Ohio, when I was a 16 year old High School student presenting at a speech contest. I was sure the judges would laugh at my funny lines, smile at the poignant moments, and applaud raucously at the end.

They were stone-faced and silent the entire time.

My palms got sweaty, I mumbled, stumbled and slunk out of the room, defeated. I told myself that I never wanted to feel that way again. Have you ever felt like that? It took decades of failing at work, being passed over for promotions and raises, the ridicule of co-workers, feeling ignored at meetings as I hid in the back of the room. Executives ignored me or didn’t hear the ideas I had in my head, because I couldn’t get them out of my mouth in front of them.
I didn’t speak in my personal life, and felt unable to ask for what I wanted or to stand up for myself when I wanted to.

Then I discovered that it’s okay to get out of your comfort zone and overcome your fear of speaking.

It’s a process and anyone can do it if they put their mind to it. Because of that, I am able to speak up at work meetings, confidently give speaking feedback to executives and lead work teams. I’ve learned to lead teams at work and for non-profits, speak up in front of groups of people I don’t know, and give keynote speeches and workshops that help people. My self-confidence grew, and I started my own business.

You get  closer to your goals when you find and use your voice confidently and effectively.

More to come in the next blog about the basics of public speaking. If you would like to talk with me about coaching, contact me.

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