”Not everything that is faced can be changed,
but nothing can be changed until it is faced”
It is widely known that people’s worst fear is the fear of death. A close second place is taken by another great fear we have and this is the topic of our conversation today.
It is important to overcome this fear on two levels: Firstly, for personal development, it is about not being entangled by something that sets you back. This is how you gain the fulfilment which comes from conquering your fear. Also, your self-esteem is boosted and this sets you up on a path to success in your next venture; and then, for professional development, having this skill is required in numerous positions nowadays, even more so if you’re in a leadership role.
You must have guessed by now: I’m talking about the fear of speaking in public.
Why should you even try to face such a fear? Through rational arguments, personal example and scientific research, my goal, here, today, is to inspire you to act.
Don’t leave it for tomorrow and don’t let your fear overcome you. If I manage to inspire at least one of you, then I know I’ve done my job well.
It can become exhausting to carry around the burden of a fear you don’t have the courage to face. Because of this, you might end up turning down an opportunity just because you haven’t had the chance to overcome it yet. I wonder if Bill Gates’ first few sales pitches were all that amazing, or did he have to go through a few instances of trial and error?
Don’t we all feel good about ourselves when we succeed? It feels like all of our hard work has not been in vain, and our efforts ultimately find their reward.
Don Chezik, a PhD in Psychology and Clinical Psychology, conducted a study on the matter, back in 1971. Among his conclusions, was the fact that people with high self-esteem tend to have confidence in their abilities, as a series of successful attempts boost self-esteem, and get you in an ”ascending cycle”. On the contrary, the person with low self-esteem expects to fail and enters a stage of ”learned helplessness”. I quote: ”When we are confident, we attempt things. The more we succeed, the more we try, the more we try, the more we succeed.”
There are many areas of activity that require this skill. From politics to business, education, banking systems, IT companies, spokespeople for government institutions, media services and so many others. The time span from day one when you simply attend an interview for the job, to the day you get that promotion for a leadership position, is influenced, or let’s say guided by your endeavour or attempt to perfect and master this skill.
What does a good leader do, after all? He has the ability to gather people in a team, allowing each of them to realize their self-worth, and also inspire them to strive towards a common goal. The role of a great speech in such a context is crucial. Let’s take Nelson Mandela for example. He was not only a great spokesman but more so a great leader. He managed to inspire the people within his community to have a voice, and stand up against persecution.
I am standing in front of you today, delivering my first speech on overcoming the fear of speaking in public, while I am, myself, a fighter against this fear.
But how can you overcome it? ”Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes courage and that one initial step. After stepping outside your comfort zone, having to face your stage fright, you eventually bypass the fear that has held you back and pave your way to success. Irrespective or regardless of the field of work you are engaged in, you can choose whether to simply do your job or step up to the challenge and use your words to inspire.