I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my mission on this planet (and this site!).
How do you explain to someone a feeling or a frame of mind that they’ve never experienced? How can you articulate the real power behind something life-changing?
For starters, here it is in words:
To help others overcome the fear of public speaking so they can inject themselves with confidence from that experience, and then use that confidence to spur themselves to take action toward what they truly want in life.
Here’s the unfortunate part about that. It’s clichéd to pieces. Words like “confidence” or phrases like “overcome fear” and “take action.” What does that stuff really mean? The word “confidence” gets thrown around so often that it gets overlooked like a Viagra SPAM email.
Sure, they have meaning if we stop and actually think about them, but it doesn’t pop out and strike us like a chainsaw wielding neighbor.
With that being said, I’m going to do my best to lay it all out.
The before. The struggle. The after.
But first, let me get something out of the way. It’s worth mentioning because it’s a reality of busting through the fear of public speaking.
You’re going to be a better communicator. You’ll be able to put together content and deliver it in a way that is clear and memorable. You’ll be composed and in control of your thoughts. Hell, you might even appear credible!
Those facts alone make public speaking an attractive skill to learn...but that’s all secondary in my eyes. The aftermath.
We’re after something much more compelling. We’re after 100% pure, unfiltered, wild, forged-in-hell, fire-breathing…
Let’s take public speaking out of the equation for a second and ask a question. It’s the elephant in the room.
Why would somebody need confidence in life?
What’s the big deal, right?
It’s a huge deal, actually. Here are several reasons that confidence could benefit your life:
- Have you wanted to start a business? Confidence can take you from thinking to doing
- Create a blog and release your work into the world?
- To write a book about something meaningful to you even though people will be able to read it and judge you
- To perform your art and put it in front of prying eyes. Do you create music? Paint? Photography? Break dance?
- Ask for a raise or a promotion while looking at your boss dead-square into his or her soul (Intimidating, right?)
- To promote your work and even yourself
- To stand up for yourself in everyday situations (more assertive)
- Sales (rejection takes courage)
- Ask that girl or guy for their number
- Being able to say “NO” to things you don’t want to do
- To be vulnerable and share your true thoughts or feelings with someone
- To be yourself and not worry what others will think about you
- You’ll have the motivation to set goals and move closer to them without all the self-doubt
- To strive for something better in life
- To be done with the same old shit you’ve been doing for the past decade and say, “Enough is enough. I want to live.”
Maybe some don’t apply to you; maybe some do. At any rate, those are some pretty good reasons if you ask me. Go ahead and ask me!
I promise to show you how overcoming the fear of public speaking is related. Follow along closely.
Do you remember a time when you had to speak in front of a group of people? Even if there were just two or three people (that weren’t your BFFs). Perhaps it was just to introduce yourself.
Think back to what you were feeling inside. Do these sound familiar?
Physical sensations such as butterflies in your stomach, heart pounding, shoulders and neck stiff as a waiter who didn’t get tipped, knees buckling as if Mike Tyson just jabbed you in the chin, even your saliva decides to flee the scene, leaving your mouth sand dry, perhaps reincarnated as the sweat that’s now oozing out of your pores.
Let’s not forget the inability to form a coherent thought, let alone utter it. And what of the words you prepared the night before? Gone. They’ll be back after it’s all over, though. They’re funny like that.
In other words, you’re on your own.
You either stammer through your talk with 90% “umms” and “ahhs” while on the verge of fainting, or you run to the bathroom and play dead. Either case, you vow never to do that again or you’ll end it all...for real this time!
It sucks ass.
Why does public speaking make us feel this way?
This could be a clue. The fear is believed to be a defense mechanism that’s ingrained in our DNA. There’s strength in numbers, right? So, if you were somehow ousted from the tribe in prehistoric times and left to fend for yourself...holy crap. You’d be in a perpetual state of survival.
I’m sure it was extremely useful back then when legions of barbaric murderers and their pet dinosaurs ravaged anyone and everyone. The good news is that dinosaurs are extinct and barbarians travel solo—and surely not looking to attack you during your speech (too many witnesses). Be careful on your way back to your car, though.
I say that with empathy because the fear is real. I understand that better than anyone. I’ll never forget how it made me feel and what it took to get over my deepest fears. I even wrote a book about it! The fear of failure. The fear of making mistakes. The fear of looking foolish in front of people. Just the thought of criticism used to send a shock through my bones. Those are serious fears, and they deserve respect.
A lot of people with good intentions try to belittle the fear of public speaking. They say things like “just do it!” These same people also put out false promises about what it really takes to vanquish it. Perhaps to make a quick buck and most certainly to feed off our penchant for instant gratification. Damn it’s great to get things NOW, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, this doesn’t help anyone. It only serves to add disappointment when the fear still rages on after following the compassionless advice of “just do it.” Without honestly preparing the person for what’s in store for them when they go to stand in front of a friendly (or un-friendly) audience, it could inadvertently strengthen the fear even more. That’s not what we want. Not at all.
I should probably add the following. As difficult as it may sound to overcome, it’s possible to master it and grant yourself control. I’m dedicated to making it so.
What tangible difference can this make in your life?
Well, think of what’s holding you back in your life. Is it a job? An endless cycle of what you’re sick and tired of? Is something stopping you from changing your circumstances? Only you can truly know what fears are responsible, so it’s important to be honest with yourself here.
Now, just imagine being able to solve these problems.
Here’s how overcoming the fear of public speaking can allow you to make changes. The way to describe how this works is through a simple comparison.
We’ll use weightlifting as an example.
The fear of public speaking is a 500 lb. dumbbell. Not an easy feat for a weakling like yourself. But you trained and prepared for it, and now you’ve lifted up that dumbbell.
Now here’s the kicker. Everything else in life that you thought was untouchable to you, turns out to be 25 lb. dumbbells in comparison.
If you’ve lifted weights before, you understand that if you lift a heavy weight and then immediately grab a much lighter weight, it feels like lifting a feather.
Not into weights? Here’s another example. Think about driving on a freeway at 80 MPH and then getting off onto the side streets at a much slower speed like 25-40 MPH. It feels like you’re crawling.
Baseball fan? The pitcher throws a 100 MPH fastball (public speaking fastball!) and then follows up with a 50 MPH change-up that probably strikes you out, but that’s not the point! It’s that you were so amped up from having to conquer that fastball that anything slower than that you had no problem catching up to it.
That’s what life feels like when you’ve conquered a tremendous fear. Your perception of what you are capable of rises (remember that Viagra SPAM email? There’s a joke there…).
Are you starting to see the connection now? Good.
Evaluate your life.
If you’re trapped doing something you don’t want to be doing, public speaking, or rather overcoming the fear of public speaking, could be your catalyst for change.
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About this guy...
Howdy! My name is Matt Kramer and I used to suffer excruciating death when speaking in front of a group, now I LOVE it. Overcoming this fear has changed my life. In less than a year since, I’ve started this website, Tactical Talks, competed and won 3 separate public speaking contests, wrote a book, and spoke at one of the top universities in southern California (SDSU).
And look, I’m not telling you this to “show off.” My purpose is to show you that it’s possible to start doing the things that YOU want to do. And that’s my goal. My focus is to help you overcome the fear of public speaking so you can build the confidence to go after what you want in life.