Pain’s A Pal

Matt KramerOvercoming Fear, Public Speaking

pain - public speaking


I hated the feeling I got when I knew I was just moments away from having to stand in front of a room full of people and say…stuff.

Public speaking.

Scary to even think about, right?

I dreaded doing it. I almost packed it in 7 months after joining Toastmasters (a sort of workshop dedicated to helping you become a better communicator). You’d think that 7 months would be enough time to settle in…but nope.

I thought I was doing everything right. I was going beyond just attending the weekly Toastmasters meetings, and I wasn’t just a spectator mind you, I participated, either a role or delivered a speech in almost every meeting.

Apart from getting experience at the club, I was reading books, watching videos, listening to great speakers, took voice lessons, scouring the internet for tips, practicing at home, you name it…I really wanted to become a better communicator dammit.

But I just could not get rid of this sharp pain in my sternum. You know that feeling? It’s like the feeling you get on a roller coaster when you race at near freefall speed. Not nearly as fun though.

Your heart is beating. Your body is tense, especially in your neck and shoulders. At times I would even feel sick to my stomach which was followed by feeling physically weak.

These are just the physical symptoms. What about what was going on in my head???


Now, not only was I fearing the actual speaking in front of the group, I also feared the physical and emotional symptoms that I got because I was afraid of speaking in front of the group.

Mind blown, I know. I was still fighting against my fear. Avoiding it. Pushing away from it.

You know what? I finally realized that I was going about it all WRONG.

A change of perception was in order…and that’s just what I did.

I got the idea from my experiences with exercising–more specifically, running.

When we exercise we get a feeling of pain, or the burn that’s primarily associated with weight training. But we expect it, maybe even like it. When I run it’s the same thing. I kick my butt physically.

When I start to tire or feel I need a break after a running up a hill, I push myself harder. Finally this clicked in my brain. Why not accept the pain (or fear) that I get during public speaking and love it? Why not treat it as the cost of doing business, a necessary evil, and perhaps something to be embraced?

It’s the public speaking burn, the burn that’s telling you that you’re going to get stronger.

Now I accept it. I want it actually. It’s an adrenaline rush. Even with “low risk” speaking opportunities in my Toastmasters club, I want to feel it. I want the energy shot from all that darn excitement.

My goal after I first felt the speaking pain was to feel completely at ease during speaking opportunities–no discomfort at all. I wanted it gone for good.

Let’s just say that my perspective has changed.

Maybe that tweak can help you change your relationship with the speaking “excitement.” So open your arms wide and welcome it during your next presentation.



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