We all know that handy statistic about the fear of public speaking ranking right up there next to the fear of death, right?
For most of my life, Ive used that demographic as a shield of validation as to why I would never venture too far into the public arena.
It’s a fear that I have experienced time and time again. A mind-blank, throat constricting, flaming-cheeks-wobbly kneed-about to slip into unconsciousness phobia.
And wherever I could – I have chosen to avoid and hide out from this fear.
Being sick as a little kid for show and tell. Keeping my head down in the classroom and refusing to make eye contact, in an effort to avoid participating in discussions. Drinking wine and enduring the odd panic attack, before showing up to tutor social psychology classes at university.
Fumbling excuses, rejecting business opportunities and filming vlogs with the computer screen covered, so that my awkwardness would not get the better of me.
(Bloody terrified then!)
But that all changed this weekend, when I found myself up on stage as a key-note speaker, at the first Empowering Women Conference in Cairns.
And the biggest surprise?
In what may just have been one of the most incredibly surreal experiences of my life, I found that once I got up there and did a slow pan of the expectant, friendly faces in the audience, my nerves all but disappeared.
And today, as I write this, I am changed.
My perspective has shifted. The plane of possibility has widened exponentially and I now feel certain that I can do anything that I put my mind to.
I wanted to share some of this process, for those of you who are curious -
How I overcame my biggest fear:
1. Shift your perspective.
For years I let my fear of public speaking influence and shape many of my actions and decisions. Early on, I had decided that public speaking was not something that was possible – at least not for me. It was never going to happen. My fear was far greater than the average persons. Too consuming, to even consider overcoming.
So, the first step was to simply entertain the idea that it might be possible. To consider, ‘What if?’
To seek out examples of slightly shy introverts who had taken the leap. To spend some time entertaining the possibility, instead of being completely opposed to the idea.
2. Walk with your fear
Like most people, I want to grow and evolve.
Knowing that fear has such control over this one area of your life, is not always pleasant.
But I’m not your kick-ass-fear-busting-ninja type of gal, who shamelessly eats fear for breakfast! Is anyone?
Allowing fear to show up every day as you work through your crap?
That I could do. That’s something we might all be open to.
If we can allow our fear to show up time and time again and be an observer. It begins to loosen its death grip.
It’s still there, but it begins to soften.
Slowly the desire to expand and grow becomes more powerful than our usual response of contraction.
This feels BIG. Huge.
We then become faced with the choice to be conquered by our fear, or to keep walking. Fear becomes a comrade of sorts. Always there, but less sinister.
3. Don’t do it alone
This is an important part of the process and one which is too easily overlooked. For every public speaking opportunity, there is a team of people, behind the scenes.
I did not just jump up on stage on a whim. I worked my ass off to get there!
I did a 7 week program with the incredible KCBaker – who helps women all over the planet, unleash the brilliance in their voices.
I had some intense EFT sessions with my trainer and friend, Kelly Burch and began taking a personalized blend of bush essences, a month prior to the conference.
I had the help of a support group online and actively enlisted the help of friends, strangers and family members; people who were open to listening to my message, who gave me feedback and most importantly – who believed in, and celebrated me.
The very fact that I was invited by Kristy Vallely, to stand alongside her and a team of speakers, blew my mind. It was a potent reminder that there are other people out there who believe in you and me. And, they will support you fiercely, if you allow it.
4. Believe in your message. Commit to it.
This is something that we delved into deeply, in KC’s program.
Learning to believe in and commit to your message. Wholeheartedly.
There are no guarantees that you are going to nail it.
But knowing, deep in your bones that your message is an important one….that it has the power to inspire, motivate and induce positive change – even in one other person – thats where you can tap into a whole new source of power.
5. Prioritise self care
I knew that the intensity of my fear would consume me, if I failed to prioritize my own self care.
In the days leading up to the conference, I put my notes to the side and spent more time turning inward with lots of stillness and meditation.
I focused on nourishing my body with whole foods and gentle exercise.
Yes, this is a prime example of self care becoming more important, not less.
Go within and listen to what your body requires from you. Nurture yourself courageously.
6. Show up authentically
I knew that my message was not going to gel with everyone in the room. That my approach, my personality and my why would attract some, and repel others.
But as several people mentioned to me in the lead up to this event – people are attracted to authenticity, so you might as well show up as yourself.
Claim your own style of speaking and let it shine through.
Just be you and you can’t go wrong.
As a final tidbit of reassurance – Trust in these words: