The statistics for those that list their number one fear as the fear of public speaking are truly staggering at an estimated 3 out of 4 people. What about you? What is your greatest fear? Is it a fear of death? Creepy spiders? Being alone? Being broke? Or, is it for you too public speaking? Ask yourself why and how long this has been a major fear for you. Are there any opportunities you have missed because of your fear?
For my daughter, her fear was being in the dark. Apparently, she secretly loved monster cartoons but later hated the fact that she would see those one-eyed creatures again in her dreams, disrupting what would have been a peaceful night’s sleeping experience. As a result, for she often asked if we would leave the light on in her bedroom or the hallway until she would fall asleep after her nightly routine of a bedtime story and prayer. What I always found particularly fascinating was the fact that though she never wanted those ugly monsters in her dreams, she continued to try to appease her curiosity while awake by asking to watch the very shows or movies that contained the “horror” appeal for kids. Could it be that even at the age of five she was trying to slay her fear of monsters? Or, was it that her love for action packed cartoons like Scooby Do? Was it the action with an element of “bad guy monster villain” that was so entertaining she was willing to risk a good night’s sleep to satisfy her mental stimulation?
So, what is the lesson my five-year-old daughter has taught us about fear? Well, I would say it is that you cannot wait for the absence of fear to enjoy your life. You may still be a little scared, but hey, move forward and enjoy the beauty of life as much as possible. Even if your movie doesn’t end the way you thought it would, at least you can say you enjoyed the highlights of the journey and didn’t just wait like an “extra” on the side, hoping someone else would invite you to join the fascinating story that is your own life.
Here are three strategies to slay fear with confidence when speaking in public.
1. Remember, everyone is an expert in something, including you. Being an expert doesn’t mean you know more than everyone about a given subject, it simply means you know more than most average people about a subject. Begin to carefully examine your life’s story and seek out your successes, failures, and greatest lessons learned. Any themes that surface provide clarity for where your “super skill” or expertise lies. Your greatest success, plus your greatest failure, plus your greatest lesson learned are the ingredients that develop your “Core Message”. Your core message speaks to the “core” of who you are, why you were created, and how you are helping to make your world a better place.
2. Remember, you are smart, and are not an idiot. Even if you fumble your words or mispronounce a phrase, you cannot reduce yourself to the likings of an “idiot” even if you sometimes feel what you said or did was incredibly stupid ?. Shake it off and take the lesson learned; and try not to repeat the same mistakes. Remind yourself, even if you blubber (yes, I said blubber ?) up a word, it’s something you did and not who you are. Even the most prolific speakers and influencers that we highly revere today have made a few fumbles before reaching the place of grace, elegance, and poise that we now admire with such high regard.
3. Remember to take daily action by sharing your “core message” with others. Every day you have an opportunity to share your message of hope, inspiration, encouragement, enlightenment, resilience, and or empowerment with your children, next door neighbor, family, Uber driver, co-workers, friends, grocery clerk, or the waitress serving your lunch. Your core message may not be a lengthy dissertation that is presented as formally as if it were on a stage in an auditorium set for thousands, but five simple words, “I survived, you can too” may yield the momentum to one person that thousands will later be thankful for. Practice your “core message” as often as you can, to allow your comfort and confidence to grow so that when you are invited to share your message in front of strangers, you understand just five words of your message has the power to transform the trajectory of no less than one person’s life. Even if you are the recipient of that transformation, the opportunity, the risk, the nervousness, sweating, and whatever else is worth it because it gives your life more value and beauty that someone, somewhere will be inspired by.
Ultimately, to Slay Fear with Confidence when speaking in public you will have to act to combat that fear. Action is the antidote for fear. Fear keeps you paralyzed and unable to move, function, and will if allowed cause you to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity that may never resurface. Don’t allow fear to rob your life of the beauty in every experience that someone, somewhere will be thankful for. Imagine the big, hairy, one-eyed monster of fear being annihilated every time you act to demonstrate your power over it! You are more powerful than the illusion that fear has painted in your mind. Never again forget it!
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