I’ve been trying to move forward with a project that requires me to speak in front of other people and I’m finding it extremely difficult to “pull the trigger”. This is something I genuinely want to do, but I keep delaying, do you have any advice to help me get past this?
- Nervous in Tumwater
Fear can be a powerful force, preventing you from reaching your dreams and goals. Ironically, the more you care about something, the more likely you are to come up against fear along the way. It’s an odd catch-22 and a very unpleasant experience. There are certainly steps you can take to help you overcome the hump though, so let’s jump in and start the process of moving forward.
- Define the fear: What type of fear are you facing? Fear of rejection? Fear of the unknown? Fear of judgment? Any of these could be a factor, but figuring out which form your fear takes is a vital step in identifying its root cause. Likely, you’re fearful due to a past experience, but once you figure out what that trigger is, you can learn to combat it.
- Consider your beliefs: There may be a justifiable reason for your fear (we can never truly escape the fear of the unknown, for example), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your worries are realistic. Sure, there is a remote possibility that people will rise up and bombard you with rotten tomatoes, but the chances of that are slim to none. In all likelihood, the worst that would happen is that people won’t really engage and you’ll walk away without a lot of feedback. And while this scenario isn’t ideal either, it’s much less intimidating than the tomato scenario.
- Recognize your capabilities: Every uncomfortable, scary situation you face is an opportunity to learn and grow. As such, it’s important that you don’t require too much from yourself as you start out. We all have to practice if we want to improve, so while you may have some natural speaking capability, it’s still likely that you will become a much better orator once you’ve been speaking for a while. It’s a process, and that’s important to keep in mind. You’re not going to be Martin Luther King Jr right off the bat, but with time you could learn to reach people on a similar level. The capacity to master this skill resides within you, but only if you’re willing to cultivate it.
- Find your why: Abraham Hicks has a saying, that it’s better to move toward something you want than away from something that you don’t. I wholeheartedly agree with this concept, fear can only motivate you so far, but desire can take you wherever you want to go, assuming you find the right desire. So many of us have a desire to lose weight, hoping to stop being judged for our size, but it usually isn’t until you find a deeper reason (such as being able to play with your children, regaining health after an illness, or similar) that change really starts in your life. That is why it is important to figure out why this is important to you and then keep that reason in front of you every day.
- Small, regular steps: Consistency cannot be stressed enough, although I certainly understand the difficulty of this step. Small, consistent actions are the key to long-term change, so if you’re looking to get more comfortable with public speaking, find opportunities to keep yourself in a speaking position. The more you do this, the easier it gets. The longer the time between, the longer it takes for you to get comfortable. For this reason, I would actually recommend starting a social media account where you post videos on a daily basis. It’s not quite the same, but it tends to hold the same fears that public speaking has and provides you an opportunity to practice your speech-building skills too.
Taking action is the best path through fear, although that’s not to say that it’s easy to convince yourself to do. We, humans, are strange sometimes, it may take things getting worse before you feel compelled enough to make a change, but if you can press yourself into daily action, you’ll quickly see the results that you’re looking for.
Hope this helps,
Lexis is Alexis Rae Baker. She writes from her home in Olympia. Got a question about life, relationships, spirit? Visit her at lexisrae.com or write to Lexis at Lexis@theJOLTnews.com
EDITOR'S NOTE: The opinions expressed above are those of Alexis Rae Baker and not necessarily of The JOLT or its staff or board of directors. Alexis Rae Baker is not a licensed psychologist or specialist healthcare professional. Her advice does not replace the care of psychologists or other healthcare professionals.
EDITOR'S NOTE: One group that many go to help learn public speaking is Toastmasters. They provide a setting either online or in person for practice and positive and actionable feedback. Participating in local or online projects is also an excellent way to practice speaking to more people at a time.