Nervous Speaker? Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway

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Ok, confession.  I’m feeling the fear right now. Yes, my tummy is churning away, but in a good way.  I am really excited (and a tiny bit scared) to share with you a teeny tiny preview of a snippet of my book about glossophobia (the fear of public speaking).  Woo hoo, yes I am in full swing writing tips and chapters ready for the book launch later this year)

A few years back…

I had a lightbulb moment!

I felt that familiar feeling of fear,  and I realised I had to flip my mindset into focussing on my mission.  It changed my life.  I overcame my fear of public speaking by around 30% that day alone!

You can flip your feeling of fear too.

I was asked to speak at a women’s networking event at the global law firm Squire Patton Boggs.  They are a great firm and fantastic group of women and they had invited some of their clients to this lunch and learn seminar ‘Get Your Voice Heard’.

I hadn’t been speaking long at the time and I started feeling the fear as I walked to their office in London (it’s only a 10 minute walk from Spitalfields so I didn’t have long to sweat, shake, panic and do all those things you well know. The obstacles that stop you from public speaking).

I was crippled with nerves and by the time I arrived, I was beginning to think all those thoughts you can relate to like;

-Why did I sign up to this?

- What if I forget my lines?

- What if they hate me?

- Oh gosh,  shall pretend to be ill?

- I am crap, I am terrible, why am I here?

- etc etc etc

Yes, I talked to myself on a daily basis.

However, when I arrived I bumped into a few of my clients (I had already run some masterclasses at the firm so I knew a few of the sparky women there who were all really up for it and eager to learn).

One woman came up to me looking really excited.

“I can’t wait to hear your tips on how to look more confident”

And her colleague followed on with..

‘I know, I want to know what George Clooney was like in real life”

(By the way, he’s much smaller and not as good looking as all that!)

They carried on

“I wish I had the confidence to speak up more in meetings, my voice goes all funny!”

“Yes, and I think I’m too quiet when I don’t know the people in the meeting, sometimes I don’t say anything at all..”

They were genuinely really engaged with the confidence tips and they had NO idea I was trembling inside.

At that moment I realised something. …

My mission.

I want to help as many women as possible speak up in meetings and have the confidence to get their voices heard and climb that slippery slope to career success.  That’s why I’m here, that’s my mission.

I have tips and technique I have learnt from my 20+ years in broadcasting, at the BBC and as a senior producer in live TV and Radio studios for half of my life.

My mission is more important right now than my fear.

I must do this one thing…

Feel the fear and do it anyway

(Thank you Susan Jeffers, she’s written a book with this title)

So I did!

The masterclass in front of 40-50 women lawyers was a hit. Everyone was engaged and loved the tips.

The tips were more important than my inhibitions.

I did it, I worked through my fear.

Practical tip for you.

When you feel fear before speaking in a meeting, a pitch or a presentation and you could easily pass up the opportunity or avoid it altogether.  Don’t.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Some mentors call this – stretching yourself.  Some say you know when you are stretching yourself, it’s when you are in a state of fear.

So go on. Think about your mission, focus on that, and throw yourself into it.

Yes, it’s a bit like diving into a pool and getting used to the cold water, once you’ve done it, you feel GREAT!

If you want me to come and run and confidence boosting masterclass for your team, or one of your diversity networks get in touch, I’d love to work with you. esther@estherstanhope.com

patrick Volavka