The Fear of Speaking Held Me Back for Years
I was afraid to speak in front of people. That’s why I had to do it and decided to turn public speaking into an action that would become a part of my DNA.
My fear of speaking was holding me back because I was saying no to opportunities that were destined to broaden my horizons. I thought of what former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt had said so many years ago…
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
It was 2006 and I had just arrived in my new city. After resigning from my job as a classroom teacher at the end of the school year, as well as giving away my best real estate clients to others who could better serve them I decided to relocate as part of my life reinvention. I was ready to start my new business on the internet. Within a couple of weeks I came to the realization that working from home was going to be a lonely proposition.
This led to a search for volunteer opportunities in my new community. The international service organization Rotary held weekly meetings. I showed up to see what it was all about. Soon they asked me to do a talk on this new internet business I had been telling them about. I was scared to death but knew they were supportive of my endeavors and wanted to do more. On that hot and humid day in August of 2006 my speaking career was launched in front of sixty Rotarians at the Marie Callender’s restaurant next to the on ramp to Interstate 5.
Opportunities for speaking engagements for the local Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary District event in Los Angeles followed, where there were more than three hundred people in attendance each time. Even with more experience I was still so scared each time I got up on stage. My heart would pound and my stomach did flip flops in the minutes leading up to my turn on stage. I prayed for the confidence to be able to speak in front of groups of any size and it would be a full two years before that occurred.
It was in Minneapolis, Minnesota in June of 2008 that I had been asked by legendary marketer Armand Morin to speak at his annual event. I passed him in the hallway on my way to the conference room, where he asked me if I was nervous.
“I’m nervous because I am not nervous this time,” I answered. He laughed and smiled.
When I got up on stage the nerves crept back in. I assumed this would be another time where my mouth would get dry. I would read most of the slides, making very little eye contact with anyone in the audience. My fear of speaking was an unwelcome visitor.
But something happened that I cannot explain. It began when I said something funny and a few people laughed. Then I said something else and I was building rapport with the group. I sailed through my presentation, interacted by answering a few questions, and sold several copies of the program I was offering.
It was a feeling I can only describe as one in which I was empowered and confident in knowing that I had information and knowledge that would be of benefit to others when I shared it. In those moments on stage I had promised myself I would never forget how this felt. I had wanted this feeling and experience so badly and now it had arrived. It was as though a gift had been bestowed on me and my light was shining more brightly. And I now knew I could call myself a public speaker and change my life forever.
The next day I once again thought about Eleanor Roosevelt. She had also said,
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
These days I speak virtually and in person on a regular basis. My goal is to seek out different venues in which to speak and to connect with more people from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. Scaring myself has become something of a hobby. It’s my way of measuring how much I am growing as a human. Sharing my message with others is a gift for which I will be eternally grateful.
Doing the thing I thought I could not do is changing my life.
Be sure to take a look at the book I have co-authored with Ellen Finkelstein, “Speakers! The Quick Public Speaking to Business Method: Turning Your Talk into an Ongoing Revenue Stream” and pick up a copy if this is one of your goals.
This article was originally published on my site at https://hugeprofitstinylist.com/fear-of-speaking/.