If you’re still terrified of public speaking, and it’s holding you back in business or your own life achievements, here’s my advice for getting over it. It’s proven to work!
Well I’ll start with this: When I first started my career in advertising in 1996, the Media Director of the ad agency where I was working told me she hated presenting at new business pitches and public speaking at industry events – there was no getting away from the duty of pitching but she would avoid speaking on stage at events like it was the plague. She said she would get so nervous about presenting in front of strangers that she would vomit.
I didn’t have too much of a hard time with speaking my mind, but I had almost no experience with high-pressure, competitive new business pitches and had no experience at all with public speaking other than some acting auditions when I was 15 and had aspirations of being a movie actress. While I could weasel my way into almost any audition, I wasn’t a strong actress (not on screen at least), and I always had nerves at the audition so it never really went beyond non-speaking extra roles.
I’ve written before about my shyness, and how I suffered with stage-fright and managed it with Toastmasters in my 20’s and a decade later in my career with hypnotherapy, but last year when I had the chance to return to a Toastmasters meeting with my friend Roger Pierce, I started to really recognize a whole other side to stage fright and why fear of public speaking is such a problem for so many people.
What we know is that for many people, this fear holds us back from speaking about our passions and expertise and often from participating in the activities that can help make our businesses stronger and lives so much richer.
I believe that for many of us this fear comes from being told as kids to be quiet, that our voice and opinion doesn’t matter, that we will embarrass our parents and likely humiliate ourselves. It creates a physiological reaction to the prospect of public speaking that acts like a trigger for pain and illness to literally stop us from embarrassing ourselves.