Fear and Public Speaking

Microphone in front of blurry audience signaling fear of public speaking

Fear of speaking in public is experienced by more than 25% of American adults. More than fear of flying, heights, spiders and clowns put together. Fear is very personal. It is subjective. It is rattling and paralyzing. Some fear is helpful – like fear of wildfire or bengal tigers on main street. Some fear is unnecessary or in fact harmful – like fear of vegetables or exercise.

Fear of public speaking is completely unnecessary when every human that ever incarnated was first and foremost a communicator. If you stand in line at a bank, minding your own affairs, you are communicating. If you are dancing at a concert, you are communicating. It is impossible, in fact, not to communicate.

Being in front of an audience can play on imagination. Fear is a rampant imagination eclipsing truth. I won’t say reality because someone feeling the fear is experiencing a real emotion. They are paralyzed by a real feeling. But if that same person was equally afraid when talking to their bestie BFF, then they truly need help to communicate. Otherwise, they have an unnecessary fear that can be eliminated.

The first place I look to in these instances is the fear of failure. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of being laughed at. Boil these together and you have a stew of emotional approval/disapproval. These antiquated notions of social standing or value derail most well-intentioned speakers. Our first task is to get people to think outside of confines of right and wrong. Once they are liberated from being judged, then they can join the moment and experience the joy of a good conversation.

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