I conduct workshops to help people overcome the fear of speaking up aka stage fright. Although in my mind (and experience) stage fright is so much more than the fear of presenting in front of others. When you really have this issue you have a big fear of being in the spotlight, of being judged, of screwing up, etc. The list goes, painfully, on and on….
The fear can manifest in a number of different lovely ways.
Forgetting what you’re going to say
Losing your place
As bad as all these symptoms are, there is one that I haven’t listed yet because it trumps all the others. The worst symptom is you lose your voice. You no longer speak up. You find all sorts of ways to hide out. It’s not pretty. You let others steal your spotlight. And the more you let that happen, the more confidence you lose. This cycle can take a big toll.
I have a list of tools to help participants overcome their fear but the one that seems to catch people off guard is just say “so what”! When I bring this up many times participants say they hadn’t really thought of ever doing that.
So what – if I turn red
So what – if I lose my train of thought
So what – if I didn’t get it quite right
So what – if I didn’t express myself perfectly in the meeting
So what – if this isn’t a perfect blog post
“So what” takes the pressure off. “So what” means you are human and don’t have to be perfect. “So what” means, I may not be the best or the most eloquent speaker but damn it I’ve got something to say too. “So what” allows you to start using your voice.
Having a message shouldn’t only be limited to those that love the spotlight. Actually, many times the ones with the best insight are the observers and thinkers in the back of the room.
Time and time again we read and hear about people that have done great things not because they were always perfect but because they built up their resiliency. They learned from their failures and kept going. They learned to speak with their hearts and lead from their guts aka their intuition. And you can bet that they learned how to say “so what” early on.
Martha Beck once posted a blog where she quoted Maya Angelou’s appearance on TV where Ms. Angelou was discussing aging “Sure, the body is going,” she said. “But so what?” Exactly, so what!!
“So what” isn’t always easy. It takes being nice to yourself. It takes being able to accurately (and kindly) self-assess in a way that hones your skill without beating yourself up. “So what” takes practice, so does speaking up.
Going forward, do your best, tell them what you think and then “surrender Dorothy”. As Wayne Dyer says “Don’t die with your music still in you!”
Shine on! Eva
Eva Lewandowski MBA, is a certified Life Coach, certified EFT Practitioner, seminar leader, speaker and co-host of a weekly internet radio show “Corporate Talk with Charlie and Eva”. She is also a 30 year veteran of Corporate America as an IT consultant. Using the skills she learned in acting classes, life coaching and EFT certification training as well as her struggle with debilitating stage fright, she created, Stand Up and Be Heard!, a program that teaches professionals how to overcome their fear of the spotlight. She is also the author of “Put on Your Phone Face: Tips and Techniques for teleconferences and conference calls”.