Are you afraid to speak in the public? Do you want to overcome your fear of public speaking? If your answer to the two questions above is yes, then read on as I share with you my own personal experience on how I overcame my fear of public speaking.
If you think you are alone with this fear of public speaking; then think again. I also had the same fears and many people all over the world also share your fears to speak in public. I recall several incidents that occurred while I was growing up. As a child, I often got punished with the rest of my classmates for failing to answer the teacher’s question; even though I had the right answer within me.
I preferred to be punished with others than raise my hand to answer a question; my fear of public speaking was so strong that I would rather risked being punished in school than to see myself being exempted from punishment, simply because I answered a question.
If there was anything I hated most, it was standing out from the crowd; and public speaking was one thing I hate. I often missed school feigning illness just to avoid the debate classes organized by the school management. Now how did I overcome my fear of public speaking? That’s what I am going to share with you now.
In this article, I am going to share with you my step by step strategy to overcoming my fear of public speaking. If you are willing to learn and take some actions, then below is my ten step guide to overcoming your fear of public speaking.
Self Help: How I Overcame my Fear of Public Speaking
1. I acknowledged my fears
The first step I took to overcome my fear of public speaking was to acknowledge my fears. I wasn’t shy about it; I openly admitted that I was afraid to speak publicly. One of the mistakes people make is that they hide their fears; and this fear eats them up silently. They feign boldness on the outside but inside; they pray that the earth should open and swallow them.
The positive side of openly admitting your fears is that you will become more challenged to overcome it. Openly admitting your fears means you are facing your fears head on. It might earn you some mockery but it’s a way to go especially if you can use that mockery as leverage to boost your determination.
2. I traced the root cause of this fear
The next step I took to overcome my fear of public speaking was to trace the root cause of the fear. I came to understand that the root cause of this fear was the mentality I grew up with. During my primary school days, I recall coming first in class term after term. I was happy and my parents were, but it put a strain between me and some of my childhood friends.
My friends began to pull back from me because they felt they were out of my league academically and it hurt me. I wanted to be like everyone else; that was where I developed the attitude to avoid “standing out.” If being outstanding was going to single me out of the crowd, then I didn’t want it.
Now having understood the cause of my fears, I decided to attack the root cause. I began to be me, regardless of what people said. I began to take on challenges, not because I loved challenges but I just wanted people to talk. This attitude pitched me against people who felt I was showing off but I didn’t care; I just wanted to be me.
3. I developed a strong desire to overcome my fear of public speaking
To be sincere, I don’t think you can overcome your fear of public speaking if you don’t desire it strongly. I was able to overcome mine because I desired it. I wanted to express myself in public without an iota of fear and I was prepared to do whatever it takes to bring such desire into reality.
4. I prepared my mindset to take whatever comes
I had a strong desire to overcome my fear of public speaking and also develop my public speaking skills. But deep down in me, I knew it wasn’t going to come easy; I knew there has to be a price and I was willing to pay it.
I prepared my mind to accept whatever comes; I knew the worst may come so I prepared to meet it in advance. I prepared to take the booing, mockery and rejection that may arise in the process of learning to speak confidently in public. So if you really want to overcome your fear of public speaking, then you must be prepared to take whatever comes.
5. I kept an open mind
To overcome my fears, I kept an open mind. I knew I had to learn and learn real fast. Learning in this case is not the classroom kind of learning; it’s a type of lesson that can come in the form of suggestion, advice or even criticism.
6. I learned from the masters
The next step I took to overcome my fear of public speaking was to seek advice from the masters. I began to read books and listen to tapes authored by people such as Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, etc. By reading the materials published by these great public speakers, I tapped into their wisdom and gained inspiration from them.
7. I harnessed the power of positive affirmation
Another step I took to enhance my public speaking ability was to use positive affirmations. You might think it’s not effective but I stand to tell you that it works like magic. By using positive affirmations such as “I can do it” or “I know I am destined for this”, you will unconsciously boost your self esteem. Remember the bible says that the power of life and death is in the tongue, so learn to use the power of spoken words to your advantage.
8. I developed the passion to teach
Public speaking is more or less teaching. Most great public speakers are teachers so if I am going to excel as a public speaker; if I am to overcome my fear of public speaking, then I have to develop the passion to teach. That was how I became a teacher; sharing information over the web, on platforms and through hard copy materials.
9. I started small
Today, I speak on platforms; hold seminars and engage in one on one consultations but it was not so few years ago. I started small. I started out by practicing in front of a mirror; imagining myself standing on a stage. I worked on my body language and movement in my closet and from there; I proceeded to speaking for free. I also engaged in positive discussions and I wasn’t afraid to take a stand. I began to accept the crowd as a group of friends; never again was I to be scared of speaking in front of an audience.
10. I became a confident speaker
After taking the nine simple steps above, I became a confident speaker. I can now speak to any capacity of audience provided I am well grounded on the subject. But I want you to know that I didn’t develop my public speaking skills overnight; I underwent a process that was triggered off by my desire to overcome my fear of public speaking.
As a final note, these are the exact steps I took to overcome my fear of public speaking. If you take a close observation, you will notice that they are very simple steps. Well, overcoming your fear of public speaking will not occur by just reading this article. It will only happen if you take action just as I took action. I wish you good luck.