Confessions of a Life Coach: Fear of Public Speaking
Obsessively worrying about failing. Hands shaky. Feeling of dread. Feeling you are not in control. Racing thoughts or mind drawing a blank. Shortness of breath.
If these symptoms sound familiar, you’ve likely experienced a panic attack at some point in your life.
I’ve experienced all of these symptoms, and for me they are often associated with public speaking.
Yes, I’ve had to give presentations when I worked in corporate HR and even before that in university. But somehow it became worse in my 30s.
It made me so angry at myself as sometimes it felt like this fear was the one thing that stood in my way of getting promoted or pursuing exciting new opportunities. I told myself a story that it was something I was not good at and beyond that, it would lead to a panic attack and utter embarrassment.
I consciously and subconciously avoided situations where I might have to speak in front of an audience or be recorded. If I did have to, I spent more time obsessing about the fear of having a panic attack than on actually preparing- a recipe for disaster.
I would look at others around me and convince myself I was the only one. That everyone else was different and had something I could never have.
But I’ve started telling myself a different story now; a more balanced story; one that includes the fact that I need to give myself permission to be a learner and practice the skill of public speaking. Even if it means working through nerves and experimenting with new strategies. Even if it means experiencing failure. Fear is normal, and public speaking is a common one to have.
I know I have to face my fear and work through it.
Ask for what you want and the universe delivers, right? Well guess what...
I’ve been asked to be on the news this week to share a bit of my journey on a topic I’ve never shared publicly before. Here is my chance to face my fear.
I’m going to use some strategies to stay on track and avoid panicking. If all goes well, I’ll post those strategies here on the dia-BLOG later this week.
My hope is by sharing my experience, it will inspire others who share the same fear- whether it’s public speaking or something else- to work through it instead of avoiding it. To stop running the same old script through your inner dialogue. To do the work and rewrite your story.
Wish me luck. And stay tuned....
Please feel free to share as always, using the hashtag #startadialogue. Let others know, it's ok to be scared and to do it anyways. We are not alone.