Googling “fear of public speaking” yields 30.5 million hits. The first page of results tells us how to fight, conquer, manage and overcome the fear of public speaking.
I say we should embrace our fear, sit uncomfortably with it, and then as public speaking coach, Rich Hopkins, says Speak Anyway.
Whenever I am about to give a big presentation or compete in a Toastmasters contest, I feel like that guy in the movie Alien, the one who has the creature burst out of his chest. For me the alien life force is my stomach, it's looking for any escape route it can find. It's an awful feeling, but I sit with it, breathe and think:
Nerves mean I care
When I am NOT nervous, I get really worried. It is a sign to me that I am way too comfortable or I stopped caring. I have an important message to share. I want to give my audience my best and not waste their time. Nerves are just my body's way of reminding me of that fact.
Nerves are Performance Enhancing
I always do better when I am nervous. I am more in the moment with my presentation, my ability to connect with the audience increases, and the emotional tone of my speech is more raw. I channel that fear in order to make a connection with my audience. After all, they would feel the exact same way if they were on that stage.
Fear can be FUN
The inforgraphic below reminds us that fear is natural, but what fascinates me is that we do like being scared. We go to haunted houses, watch scary movies, and endure the Kardashians because horror is fun. I think it holds the keys to speakers embracing their fear and turning it into fun.
Embracing the fear of public speaking is a way to make to make a deeper relational connection with your audience.
How do you handle the nerves before taking the stage? Post your thoughts below!
Sortable Anatomy of Fear Infographic