I need to finally clear up a BIG misconception about the fear of public speaking. One that I hear and read about A LOT.
The misconception is that those of us with stage fright, social anxiety, highly sensitive or whatever other label you want to put on it, lack confidence. It’s crap.
Those of us with stage fright ARE confident. We know we’re good at our jobs and hold positions throughout all levels of organizations, including the C Suite.
We don’t lack self-esteem any more than those that love speaking do. WE JUST LACK PRACTICE IN ARTICULATING THOSE ABILITIES!
If you’re struggling, please let this sink in. You just lack the practice, that’s all! Nothing more.
Midway in my career, I told a work friend I was taking a presentations class at University of Chicago. He was a director at the time and knew how bad my stage fright could be. He said “why would you do that? If I had your fear, I wouldn’t put myself through that.”
My fear was bad, shaking head-to-toe bad, but that was exactly why I was taking another class! I was respected at work by management and my team, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was how I felt inside.
I didn’t want to shake.
I didn’t want to get anxious just thinking about talking in front of a group.
I wanted to feel joy, I wanted to feel free to speak up or NOT speak up when I wanted to, not because fear was stopping me. That was why I was taking another class. I went to Toastmasters, even to a hypnotist! Neither worked. Why? Simple; they didn’t work because no one really understood the fear and the ones that did understand, weren’t speaking up — shocker!
After a lot of trial and error I realized that the key was I just didn’t have enough practice articulating my ideas verbally when all eyes were on me. The result was I wasn’t good at sharing what I did because I wasn’t working that muscle.
It’s took me quite a while to realize that.
Now I practice.
Giving a keynote. I practice. Leading a workshop. I practice. Facing a crucial conversation at home, work or anywhere. I practice.
How do I practice? I say what I feel I should be saying. I say it out loud and standing up. Sometimes I record myself practicing, then play it back. I never memorize. I practice articulating my thoughts however they come out in the moment.
I coach my clients to do the same.
Practice has made all the difference!
So start practicing!
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”.