Last time I wrote about feeling uncomfortable when we talk about something we don’t fully understand or believe in. This time I want to talk about the opposite. The secret to overcoming a fear of public speaking can be to find something important to say.
As I was thinking about writing this article I saw the following comment posted on social media from Emma Wright who is a member of the WE Network which I have just joined.
“I put on my first parent seminar this week. I was so terrified I almost cancelled! But I got over myself because I know parents are a bit desperate about how to help their boys and girls build a strong, positive body image (in our weight-obsessed culture).”
It struck me that this was a perfect example of what I wanted to write about and so I contacted Emma to ask if she minded me using her story. She told me that she really was making plans to cancel her seminar right up to a minute before it started because she was overcome by nerves. But she went ahead, and her seminar was a huge success. 100% of the attendees signed up to follow her e-course!
I asked her when she stopped feeling nervous and she said it was when she realised that people were interested and listening to what she had to say.
There are several reasons why finding something important to say can help you overcome your fear:
History is also littered with people who overcame a fear of public speaking because they had an important message. One of these was Mahatma Ghandi who had panic attacks as a student and was still terrified of public speaking when he became a lawyer. Apparently, he ran out of the courtroom during his first case! In the end, his desire to see a free India overrode his anxieties and fears.
2019 update - see this article about Susan Cain, whose TED talk "The Power of Introverts" has been viewed over 20 millions times. Susan was terrified of public speaking until she wrote a book that she was desparate to promote. Susan is another great example of someone who found her voice by finding her message.
Article written by Catherine Syme
I strongly believe that anyone can manage their nerves and become a better public speaker with the right support.