One of my friends shared the behaviour pattern of her colleague during important meetings. This is what she said “Sushma! My colleague Anand does not participate actively in the meetings. He remains silent throughout the discussions. However, soon after the meeting ends, he comes to me and then speaks up. He is very intelligent and hard-working but when it comes to speaking in the meetings, he is at the other end of the spectrum. I feel he is losing out on opportunities because of this one habit of not speaking in the meetings”

Now, what’s stopping Anand and many like him from speaking? Is it an inbuilt fear? More often than not, it turns out to be the fear factor.

I too, was like Anand many years ago. I used to dread meetings mainly for the fact that I was scared of speaking back then. It took me a while to get to the root cause and learn to manage the fear factor.

I would like to share a few possible reasons for this fear and how you can possibly overcome it. This is for all those like Anand to work on your fear and for the rest to help people like Anand in their teams to come out of this actually-breakable shell of fear.

Fear Of Failure

“I can speak but what if I am wrong?” is a common fear which plagues several people and prevents them from speaking out. This fear of failure is actually a bigger challenge than the failure itself. This is what actually blocks your vision of being a successful speaker and actually puts you down even further going forward.

First, understand the reason behind your fear – is it that of being humiliated, lack of preparation, low self-esteem and so on …

Secondly, work on the root cause which is instilling this fear in you.

Your Upbringing Plays A Huge Role

Reflect on your speaking pattern over the years. Were you someone who had the habit of speaking very less? Did you grow up in an environment where you were not guided well enough to overcome this fear? Did people in your growing-up circle put you down time and again whenever you made an attempt to speak? Find out the reason and then start working from that point. Discard that fear by working on it.

Fear Of Trying Again Due To Past Humiliation

You might have failed in the past. The failure might have happened once. However, the general tendency of people is to recreate the situation in their own minds.

Are you also doing the same? Before any meeting or other speaking opportunity, are you seeing the past failure again and again in your mind? Then, there is every possibility that you might repeat History yet again!

Let go of the past failure. Understand that you did try your best but it did not work out then. However, there is no such thing that the failure should repeat again and again.

Understand That Fear Of Speaking In Public Is Common

“I am scared of speaking in public.”

Rephrase this statement “I am trying to overcome the No. 1 fear in the world”. This is how you should talk to yourself.

You need to understand that you are trying your level best to overcome the No.1 fear in the world and it is quite natural for you or anyone else to fail a few times.

Condition your mind in this way and work on improving each time you get an opportunity to speak. Even better, create opportunities to speak yourself!

This article throws more light on the fear of speaking being the No.1 fear in the world.

The Comparison Bug

Many a time, what happens is that few others might be better off than you in the meetings and this could possibly result in an inferiority complex in you. This happens because you tend to take the wrong step of comparing with others.

During my earlier years, I made the same mistake but later realized that comparison only puts you down and your confidence level spirals further downwards.

My suggestion would be to get inspired by those who speak really well. If possible, reach out to such people and ask them what really helped them become so confident.

More often than not, you will get to know their stories of persistence to become confident. No journey is ever easy.

Compare if you must, not with others but your older self and keep competing with it to improve yourself.

Mob Mentality – Going With The Flow

Sometimes, it may so happen that you have a different opinion compared to the rest in the team/group. An unsettling feeling might be there which is rocking your confidence.

You then tend to come to a conclusion “So many of them out there are of a different opinion. So, I may be wrong.” The point here is that all the others may be wrong and you alone may be right. The issue in hand and its relevant solution is more important and not mere opinions.

If you are confident about your views, do express them without holding yourself back and making assumptions that you might be wrong.

Break The Public Speaking Myth – Public Speaking Is For Public Speakers Alone

Each of us do need to voice our opinions at some point or the other and for that, the speaker in us has to emerge from within. There is a common assumption that people working in certain fields other than teaching/training do not need to learn how to speak in public. You cannot be more wrong than this. Speaking opportunities do not distinguish between professions. They are only a channel for your voice to be heard and it can come up anywhere including your meeting rooms.

On the other hand, if you improve at speaking in public you will definitely be better in one-one interactions or within and across teams.

Never Be Scared Of Jargon

Sometimes, the usage of jargon by few people can intimidate others. The immediate reaction could be a sense of ignorance about not knowing how to speak at such a so-called “high” level.

The truth is that, you do not necessarily need jargon in your interactions. The aim here is to communicate effectively, means speak in a manner such that your listeners clearly understand what you say. Focus on that!

If you do feel that jargon is not being used but the scope of vocabulary used is much more that what you know, do not panic. Note it down, find out the meaning, understand and try to use it the next time you speak. It will add value to your words.

Work From Within

Working at the surface level in order to address your fears will not produce favourable results. You will only end up tackling your fears at the conscious level. You need to work on it at your subconscious level.

If the fear of past failures is haunting you continuously, write down the fear on a piece of paper and burn it. See it going in smoke. Do this regularly and you will certainly see a difference. You will be able to let go of your past failures and move on.

Next, visualize yourself as performing extremely well in your meetings or other speaking opportunities. See the picture in your mind’s eye. It should be in colour. Visualize the meeting room, your confident self, your attire and so on. The more details you put into it, the better! Things generally happen twice – first in your mind and then in reality. When you keep visualizing your positive self speaking effectively in the meetings, there is every possibility that it will become a reality.

Authored By Sushma Krishnan

Co-Founder, High Performance Alchemy

Originally published at