Three Steps to Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela

They tell us that the number one fear is public speaking, which frequently masks  the fear of rejection. That’s not my fear but I’ll trust the facts. I’d speak to a big group anytime rather than drive or ride down an Interstate highway. Here are a few tips for those of you who do fear public speaking:

1. Start out small. Practice by asking a question in a committee meeting or book club. Stand up and introduce yourself when given the opportunity.

2. When you graduate to a larger venue, focus on what you’re giving the audience rather than how the audience may be judging you. View your speaking as an act of generosity.

3. Affirm yourself prior to speaking by saying things like, “I am confident and competent.” Take a deep breath, feel the fear, then do it anyway. A certain amount of nervousness keeps you on your toes. 

Affirmation: I can conquer my fears.

Coaching questions: What frightens you? Is it holding you back from achieving your dreams or goals? What’s one step you will take today to overcome your fear? 

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Conquering Our Fears

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Two days ago, we celebrated Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday although he died in 2013. Mandela spent twenty seven years in prison, arrested for his fight against the white-only government that established apartheid, a system of extreme racial segregation in South Africa. He is widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice.

Frequently we think of folks who accomplish heroic deeds as fearless but my guess is, as Mandela suggests, these heroes are as afraid as the rest of us. The difference is they feel the fear and do it anyway. I read this line many years ago and have repeated it often to myself when I’m feeling unwarranted fear. It bears repeating….feel the fear and do it anyway.

Affirmation: I can triumph over my fears.

Coaching questions: What causes you unwarranted fear (some fear is positive of course–healthy fear keeps us alive)? Remember a time you conquered a fear.  How did you feel?