I’ve noticed a pattern with myself, public speaking, and fear of speaking. I wonder if this holds true with others.
I think it was good for me that my job required a lot of speaking even when I was still pretty young. Before I was 25 I’d done radio and standup television for UPI out of Mexico City. When I was in my 30s I did workshops and speaking dates at trade shows like Comdex. And I’ve been doing business planning and startup workshops, and teaching, and some large-group speaking ever since.
For many years, certainly for most of my career, there was a strong correlation between nervousness and doing well. Strange, I suppose, but true: the more nervous I got beforehand, the better I did. When I’d be tossing and turning all of the night before my talk, or had that embarrassing dry mouth and shaking hands at the beginning of a talk, I’d end up doing better.
Confidence seemed to be a bad sign. For years, for most of my career, if I was cool and calm then my performance was not as good.
The extreme nervousness went away, finally, worn off I guess from years of it I’d had by the time I reached maybe 50 years old. But even now, with the big groups, the 1,000-seat auditoriums, I still get nervous and shaky, and the stage fright tends to make me perform (as far as I can tell) better, not worse.
In the end, I think the best way to get over this fear of speaking is to just do it, over and over again.
(Image: courtesy of entrepreneur.com)