For many years, you may have heard that public speaking is your number one fear.
I bought into this belief for years, until I researched it.
It’s Not That Simple
There are several sources that list the most prevalent fears. Many of them claim a different one at the top.
One states that it’s death; another claims that it’s heights; another says that it’s spiders.
Public speaking is often listed as one of the leading fears. But, when you dig deeper, you’ll find that there are two powerful issues underlying this one.
The first is:
Public embarrassment or humiliation
The second is:
Walking into a room full of strangers
These make sense. Subconsciously, most people have a deep-seated fear exclusion from a group. For our earliest ancestors, this usually meant death.
For us, the stakes aren’t quite as high. But our “reptilian brain” doesn’t understand this. It equates humiliation or rejection to banishment from the group you’re speaking to.
The Perfect Storm Of Fears
Public speaking is the perfect vehicle to combine these two fears.
It’s an activity, often in front of a group of strangers, that has the possibility of embarrassing you.
You might say a word, or an entire sentence, that causes strangers to laugh at you.
One activity. Two potentially fearful components.
Pubic speaking is an action that could lead to two of our greatest fears.
Many people don’t need to speak in front of others to feel anxiety. The act of thinking about public speaking creates anxiety.
How To Manage This Fear
Two ideas to keep in mind:
One, remember that the people before you — whether strangers or friends — want you too succeed. They’re too busy to waste their time on a bad presentation. They can get their laughs elsewhere — comedy clubs, YouTube, or Tik Tok videos.
They want you to be authentic. Occasional mistakes and missteps are part of communication. Be yourself and accept that occasional errors will occur.
Two, keep in mind that every person you’ve ever met was a stranger at one time. By the end of your presentation, they won’t be. They’ll be acquaintances who value what you have to say.
Public speaking isn’t not our greatest fear. Yes, it’s an activity that could create an uncomfortable outcome. But, it’s not life or death. No one has ever died from giving a speech.
Don’t give power to your fear. Remember that those feelings served our ancestors well, but we don’t need them to succeed today.
Accept that you’ll feel nerves but they don’t have to control you.
Stand up. Speak up.
Leave an impact.
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Not these are the 2 biggest fears in speaking. Those I coach and mentor fear these. I tell them speak to learn and get better. You have to have a starting point so you can improve and be more confident.
Rick, good point. The more you speak, the less impact the fear of humiliation and strangers will be.