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How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

fear of public speaking

Do you struggle with a fear of public speaking? Is the thought of speaking in front of a group of people causing you worry or sleepless nights?  Are you avoiding or dreading getting up in front of a group of people? How is this fear holding you back from achieving greater personal and professional success?

Many people are unaware that I had a HUGE fear of public speaking.  They find it difficult to believe because they see and hear me speak at regular events, conferences, trainings and seminars; as well as being interviewed on radio and TV.  Clients, colleagues and friends say that I am confident and engaging when I speak.  Yet, it was not always this way.  When I tell them about the huge fear I had around public speaking they are very surprised so they ask me how I overcame such a deep fear of public speaking.  After many requests to share my story, below is my journey.  I trust it will help those who still struggle with public speaking.

I remember the presentation I gave many years ago now.  There I was behind the podium giving my speech to about a dozen senior managers at the financial institution where I worked.  Well into my speech, all was flowing nicely – I was comfortable, I remembered my speech and only occasionally glanced down at my notes.  I was on a roll!  Then the unexpected happened.  Half way through my speech, I burst into tears.  The tears turned into a blubber and fear overcame me.  I had no idea what was happening or why – I was caught by surprise.

It wasn’t until a couple of managers came up to me to see if I was OK that I became aware of the audience’s presence.  The mangers were wonderful, they offered help and asked if they could do anything (they thought I had a major personal issue that was affecting me at the time).  I was more embarrassed about being unable to explain why I was crying than being embarrassed about crying.  I had no idea why I was so emotional.

Searching for a Solution

Determined to conquer this fear, I attended public speaking course after course.  I attended so many of them I lost count.  Attending so many public speaking skills courses did help with my skills around structuring my presentations and practising my delivery, yet none really helped me to address the fear.  I still stood at podiums frozen with fear, stood in front of audiences shaking like a leaf, I still felt sick at the thought of speaking, I still dreaded speaking, I still avoided presentations – I still had the fear.  I needed to take a different approach.

As I stared to explore options, I realised that the solution was to permanently address the deep seated fear of public speaking (this was an irrational fear).  Through my studies and research, I discovered that all irrational fears reside in our subconscious mind and are based on our past experiences and past conditioning.  Often events that have happened early on in our life can stay with us as irrational fears later in life. This is because we can interpret those events in negative ways and often, we can “make a mountain out of a molehill” and exaggerate these in our mind.  These fears remain with us until we address them fully.

From Fear to Confidence

If you struggle with overcoming your fear of public speaking (or any other fears), here are the three steps I used to permanently address them:

1.  identified and addressed the deep seated fears I had around public speaking – this was so critical, to identify and address them ALL; both the obvious and the deeply hidden ones

2.  Importantly, I completely transformed my relationship with my audience – I used a new set of advanced behavioural change techniques that I created during my PhD and research (which are now approved and recognised Australia-wide)

3.  I learned additional skills to more effectively communicate with and engage my audience so that I could really help to make a difference.

I finally addressed my fears around public speaking!  This was over 15 years ago now and just as well because I LOVE sharing my knowledge with groups of people!  Importantly, I have also assisted so many of my clients (from CEOs, professionals, sales people, Board Members, to aspiring and existing speakers and trainers) to become confident and engaging speakers, so that they too can share their message with more people.

What questions do you have around dealing with fears around public speaking?  Please share them below or email me for a confidential reply.   

PS. If you need some additional support in permanently overcoming your fears around public speaking, here are some FREE NLP resources to help you on your journey.

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