I am reasonably sure you have come across this term at
least once: fear of public speaking.
I’ve been hearing it for years.
Does it apply to you?
Are you afraid to speak in public?
If so, you’re not alone; apparently, out of all the fears we
can feel as human beings, this fear is only second to the
fear of dying! Incredible, right?
But it’s okay because I have some good news for you!
I am also going to help you do something about it.
First, it is not public speaking that people are actually afraid of.
This is important so let me explain.
About a year ago I gave a talk at a local business meeting about self-awareness (my favorite topic and if you think about it, it covers everything). Part of that talk was on, you guessed it, the fear of public speaking.
After the presentation, a prominent member of Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org) expressed his amazement about what I said on the topic and that he was very eager to share what he has just heard at his next Toastmasters meeting.
And here, in the nutshell, is what he heard:
People who believe they are afraid of public speaking are simply mistaken.
As a self-awareness expert, I love to dive into people’s fears, as well as my own. What I found was that much of our inner dialog is imprinted in our fears.
As Life would have it, shortly before my presentation, I worked with a really amazing lady who came to me specifically to "work on her fear of public speaking".
In a relatively short time, what she discovered was not only the source but also the truth behind her fear, and what she was actually afraid of.
In short, at the very bottom of her fear, she was afraid to be perceived as inadequate and stupid! It wasn't the speaking she was afraid of, it was the way she would be perceived if she did not perform perfectly.
As in many other situations, when we are faced with presenting ourselves to the public, what happens is that our own self-judgements and unacknowledged, latent beliefs rise up to our conscious awareness. Often, only just enough to make us feel uncomfortable.
Since we don’t quite understand this discomfort and we don’t really know what those latent fears are, we often misinterpret the whole thing and explain it away with something that makes sense at the time.
We label the discomfort as something that makes acceptable sense like people are afraid of public speaking; I’m uncomfortable about it so I too must be afraid of it – there, that fits, right?
And off we go into the world having adopted or reaffirmed yet another misleading belief.
The fact is, there are millions of people out there believing that they are just another person who is afraid of public speaking. This isn't so.
In reality, we are afraid to be perceived in certain ways; sometimes we don’t clearly know what those ways are or why they are even there.
Simply put: we don’t know why we feel how we feel.
Can you relate?
If this is you, here is what you can do to begin to discover your truth behind
this false fear.
Imagine yourself standing on stage ready to begin your presentation; really get
into the role and feel it. Now, ask yourself:
1. what’s the worst that can happen?
2. why is this the worst thing that can happen?
3. what would it mean about you?
4. what would your audience think of you?
5. it that actually true about you?
The answers to those questions will shed some light on how you judge YOU.
Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of what’s behind your stories,
patterns, and labels.
The power of self-awareness is your ability to change your life by first understanding
and then transforming those stories, patterns, and labels.
Self-awareness = Empowerment
The fear of public speaking, like the fear of success, for example,
doesn’t really exist. At least not in the way millions of people think it does.
So now that you know, do you agree?
Let me know what you think in the comments.
About the Author
In early Spring of 2011, as I sat with my journal at a family cabin, I felt the seed of my creative writing come through from beneath the surface. As I picked up my pen to begin my first journal entry, I felt a feeling of profound peace and indescribable comfort. All was well. I felt I was Home - finally!