Overcoming The Fear Of Public Speaking

Daily Prompt: Naked with Black Socks

Are you comfortable in front of people, or does the idea of public speaking make you want to hide in the bathroom? Why?

At times I have spoken before 10,000 people and as few as a handful. Until about 15 years ago I was frightened beyond what one could imagine. Just before speaking I always vowed in my heart never to do it again.

Here’s what happened about 15 years ago just before speaking before a thousand people:

“You appear nervous,” Dan said.

“I’m very nervous,” I said.

“Have you practiced out loud?” Dan said.

“Yes,” I said.

“In front of a mirror?” Dan said.

“Yes,” I said.

“How many times?” Dan said.

“At least twenty times,” I said.

“You know your subject than?” Dad said.

“Yes,” I said.

“So the brain is working okay,” Dan said. “It’s the heart that needs some help, right?”

“I suppose you could say that,” I said.

“Allow me to offer some advice,” Dad said.

“I’d appreciate that,” I said.

“You know the subject,” Dan said. “It’s likely you have stood in front of that mirror and not even looked at you notes while practicing. So it is in your head. So just teach those people out there what is in your heart, just teach them.” Dan smiled slowly, kindly and walked away.

Since that time I’ve had a few jitters before speaking (which is good), but never dread.

A year later I saw Dan. He smiled again and said, “Just teach, that’s all.”

The point is plenty of practice which I knew. Dan helped to realize that it was teaching and not public speaking. The difference is that speaking is about you, but teaching is about the audience. In other words don’t be concerned with yourself, think about the needs of the audience and try to reach their hearts.  That allows you to speak relaxed and natural.

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