If anticipation of speaking publicly still puts knots in your stomach, then use it as motivation. Fear does different things to different individuals. Some people become paralyzed and simply choose to do nothing. Yes, nothing is an option—but there are better options. Avoiding having to present in front of a large group is possible. However, conversations with a client you are trying to sell to or negotiating with individuals will happen in your day-to-day business. Even normal personal interactions may require assertive and confident communication that will only generate fear because you have convinced yourself through the infamous avoidance technique that you are not ready. Avoidance, as a solution, is probably not your best course of action to get over the fear.
Fear can become a motivator that can push you harder, make you more creative, and get you to dig deeper. It can drive you to do your due diligence to prepare for the unexpected or avoid making similar mistakes going forward. You can hit things head on that are the root causes of your fear. Personally, I had to take a different tack in my own preparation after I forgot certain sections of an important speech. I immediately changed when, where, and how often I practiced. Additionally, now when I start to feel anticipation and angst building up, I find extra time to pull out the material again and make sure I know it inside and out.
You do have some control. If you are afraid your message won’t stick, invest a significant amount of time into the content and delivery, to make sure the message will stick. If you are uncomfortable with your knowledge of the material, study it and become a subject-matter expert. If you are afraid you are too inexperienced, find stage time to get more experience. Even with all of this, you should understand that despite putting in preparation time and doing your homework, mistakes will be made—no matter how hard you work. You must simply commit to learning from them. Don’t let this thing called fear hold you back; see it as the guiding force to get you where you want to be. Stare it in the face, and suddenly your motivation will move you further towards your personal and professional goals. Remember that this natural feeling is holding many others back; by taking actions to reduce the impact fear has on you, you have differentiated yourself from many others. That, in itself, is success.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood
MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby