Sunday, August 26, 2012

Facing the Fear of Public Speaking

Last week was a good week. I faced an ongoing fear of mine. I've never been comfortable with public speaking. As part of my job last week, I didn't have to speak publicly, but I did have to be filmed speaking for approximately three minutes about the value of social media engagement. The length was a blip in my whole day and the topic was one I know well, but to actually have all focus be directly on me and recorded, I wasn't looking forward to doing it.

I read something recently though that said people sometimes talk themselves into fear. My "fear" of speaking in front of others might be fueled by my thinking that I'm not prepared enough or good enough or capable of doing a good job. So instead of focusing on how uncomfortable I would be, how badly I might screw up, I prepared. I practiced in the mirror and on the way home, talking to myself in the car. That way when the day came, I felt like I had the tools necessary to get the job done. And the thing is this time I told myself how awesome I was going to do. I didn't let doubts enter my mind, and it worked.

Yes, it could've been smoother, but honestly the end product is something I was proud of. Additionally, I was just proud that I followed through on something that I had committed to. I didn't punk out. Doing videos for this part of my job is on a volunteer basis, but I felt that as a team member, I needed to step up and do my part. I needed to make it known that I could handle everything that everyone else can, not to my team, but to myself - and that included standing up for three minutes to speak on a marketing topic.

I've read tips on how to face your fears when public speaking. They say to imagine the audience in their underwear. They say to take deep breaths. But, I say be prepared and get the positive energy flowing. Tell yourself that you are going to do great. Focus on the moment and exactly what you're supposed to do, which for me was to speak to a camera in an intelligent way. Whenever you feel your heart start beating a little faster, focus your attention on something else besides your nerves. Focus on what you've practiced and work with someone who is patient and can direct you in a calm way. One of my team members let me know when I needed to slow down my speaking, but didn't make me stop and start over. Because sometimes you just need to power through. Whatever seems so scary, powering through makes you feel like you're in control.

Last week was a good week. Something that I didn't look forward to doing, something that I didn't think would turn out well actually turned out to go a lot better than expected. I know I can handle it when it comes my way. And having that knowledge helps boost my confidence.

First step, public speaking - up next, take over the world...

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