Fear… another one of my dreaded F words– fear and forgiveness. Overcoming fear is a very overstated action phrase. I am not sure if overcoming fear is as positive and easily attainable as facing one’s fears.
I have this wicked fear of public speaking. I love to have conversations, more importantly, I love to talk, teach and share what I’m passionate about with others. However, place me in a situation where I’m speaking to more than four sets of eyes on me, I’m certain to lose my train of thought. The fear of losing my thoughts and stammering over my words consumes me. I really feel like there’s a spotlight on me and everyone is whispering, what in the hell is she talking about?
I started attending local Toastmasters meetings which exacerbated my fear even more! Not only do these people hang on to your every word, they comment on grammatical errors, how many times the words and, ah, and so are abused. Speeches are timed and at the end of it all, they hand you little pieces of paper with personal comments on your presentation– that is way too much pressure. Membership is open to guests after attending three meetings along with application, dues and a two minute speech on why you’d like to become a member. After my second meeting, I stopped going for three weeks.
After the first week, I knew I wasn’t just making excuses of not returning, it was fear. I was running away from my fear of standing in front of about 15 people for two minutes. As a self accountability practice, I shared with others how much I enjoyed attending the meetings and how much I’d like to overcome this fear of public speaking. At lunch and after sharing my challenge with co-workers, we read our fortune cookies messages aloud. Mine affirmed that I don’t have to be afraid to take that first step so I went back to attending the Toastmasters meetings. I’m certain that with practice and determination as well as allowing myself to become vulnerable to attain what I’m passionate about, I Can Do This!
In situations like this… ask yourself, “what is the worse that could happen?” and “What if I am successful in doing…?” If you come up with at least three scenarios, I’m pretty sure you can manage to address each item one-by-one before facing your fear. Here are mine:
1. I start to stammer. I can beat the fear by slowing down my speech and speaking clearly.
2. What if I lose my train of thought? I will have a week to prepare my speech, practice, practice, practice. Pause when needed, breathe and continue. Understand that other members have been in the same place as me.
3. If I succeed in speaking to like-minded people for two minutes without losing my thoughts or stammering, I’ll make it to a seven minute speech and then later down the line give my own coaching workshops on how to slap fear in its face and send it on its way.
In most cases when facing your fear, you have absolutely nothing to lose.