Afraid of Public Speaking? Ask the Fear….


3a355333-24bb-41a2-b460-2209f0a067bbAs I walked down the church’s isle towards the front, I could hardly breathe. Everything within me was telling me to run, scream or call my mama for refuge. My heart beat so hard and so fast and I concluded that everyone in the church was hearing it. As I pulled my legs to establish the next step I was barely taking, I felt as if something had tied my leg and hip muscles with iron chains to prevent me from moving forward. I wanted to crawl but somehow somewhere I kept walking…call it stumbling. My eyes got teary. I could hardly see. I don’t even remember how I got to the podium. The pastor handed me the microphone which I looked at as if it were a huge machete designed to cut me into pieces. I attempted to say, “Halleluya,” only to have a big drop of saliva escape out of my mouth. 

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It was the first time I spoke in public intending to promote my first book. I failed miserably. I’m not even sure how people lined up to buy the book after my mumbled speech. This must have been the making of a dead relative who loved me, an angel or God. Who knows? I don’t. 

The Moral:

I was afraid of public speaking. This experience propelled me to join the Toastmasters International organization, and their programs helped improve my communication, and public speaking skills. 

Now as a counselor, I’ve also learned that we can question our fears. 

How it Works:

Let’s imagine that you are about to give a speech. And a bunch of butterflies visit your tummy. Your nerves recognize the “visitors” and decide to fire up. You start to tremble and your breaths get shorter. What do you do? 

Here are a few tips that will help:

1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.

2. Ask, “How is this fear benefiting me?” Stay still and listen for a few minutes. You will discover that this fear is only there to teach you a few lessons such as:

a. You are more than this fear because it is smaller than you and you shouldn’t be afraid of it.

b. The fear is inspiring you to improve something about your communication skills, improve your self-image/confidence, be more prepared, or improve the content you are about to share. 

Beyond that, this fear does nothing beneficial for you. If you get your mind to focus on these lessons, the fear will disperse. The problem is creating more meanings or conclusions about the fear. For instance, you could decide that the fear means you are not good enough; people will laugh at you; people will judge you. Your content sucks, etc. Once the mind comes up with such perceptions to expand on the fear, just know that they are lies: illusions created without evidence. Unless you can come up with evidence that all these things are true, then it is time to ignore your mind. Note that just because the mind says you are in danger doesn’t make it so. Remember that the mind can be full of crap and if you let it take over, it will manipulate your actions, fail you and get you to blame yourself thereafter. 

“Just because the mind says you are in danger doesn’t make it so. Remember that the mind can be full of crap and if you let it take over, it will manipulate your actions, fail you and get you to blame yourself thereafter.” 

I’m sure you want to know the book I was promoting. Here you have it. 🙂