I had a fear of speaking in public but I didn’t know it until I gave my first presentation.
Have you ever found yourself nervous the night before giving a
presentation? Or maybe anxious during a talk?
I sure have.
Years ago, as a young stockbroker with Merrill Lynch, my uncle, also a broker, suggested that I give presentations to small groups as a way of getting clients. I decided I was going talk about a brand-spanking-new investment that was confusing most people: the Money Market Fund.
I tried and hated cold calling at the time so I knew my entire career hinged on being successful at speaking to groups.
The first time I spoke in public I had no idea I had a fear of speaking.
Worrying about how many ways I could embarrass myself kept me up the night before but I never equated it with a fear of speaking. I’m not even sure that I had heard of people having a fear of speaking.
What if they asked me a question I couldn’t answer? Even worse, what if I forgot everything? These were swirling fears that repeatedly invaded my thoughts as I laid awake most of the night..
I don’t recall much about my talk, but as soon as I finished I bolted out the door. What a relief.
As I walked into my apartment I knew things were out of my control. Until my presentation, the only fear I had was how to support myself. After my experience, I added another one to my list. The fear of speaking.
Like other 23 year olds, I was on my own and had to push myself to be successful. There was no one to fall back on financially.
I knew I had to find a way to feel OK if I was ever to speak to another group.
I HAD TO GET OVER MY FEARS OF SPEAKING IN PUBLIC. But how?
Toastmasters? Not an option. (At the time, I had never heard of them).
After I finished my private pity party my head began to clear. I remembered that I had taken a class where I learned to use my imagination to create new ways of thinking.
I knew then that the way to get over my fears was to change my inner thoughts.
I quickly scheduled another presentation for myself to force myself to get over my fear of speaking. This time at a local church.
The next two weeks were devoted to changing my thoughts and feelings about speaking in public. I talked to myself out loud. I practiced being an amazing speaker – (in my mind!) I practiced talking to my kitchen chairs standing tall and confident with no fears of speaking.
Fast forward to my presentation two weeks later. I got there early and gave myself a pep talk. For good luck I even prayed a little.
I focused on the thought that everyone enjoyed my talk, and that I was smiling, calm and relaxed.
Did it work? Surprisingly it did.
I went on to successfully speak to 18 more groups in the 12 months.
I learned a huge lesson for me:
In order to achieve a goal, I have to change my mindset first.
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Click here to learn about a surprising way to get over your FEAR OF SPEAKING!