A lot of people ask me for advice on giving speeches. I get it. Public speaking is scary. It's so terrifying that it even has its own phobia: Glossophobia. That's some serious shit.
I am SO NERVOUS. I'm afraid I am going to throw up or pass out or poop—or all THREE! What should I do to keep myself from NOT doing those things?
My answer is simple: Recognize that you are nervous. Again and again and again.
I know, I know. It seems a little too simple, but it's the little things that make the biggest difference, right? I like to think so. (Kinda like this "little" web!)
Whenever I am going to speak in front of people, whether it is 2 or 200, I still feel like I am going to do all of those scary things. I have also accepted the fact that that feeling is most likely never going to leave. Now, I even look forward to it. It's kind of exhilarating, really.
Whenever you are about to speak publicly, it helps to recognize your fear of it. Whether you say it aloud or speak it mentally to yourself, the more you acknowledge it the less power it is given.
It's sort of similar to the feeling we get when we say a word so many times that it starts to sound foreign. You have said it so much that it no longer carries the meaning you originally knew it had. The best part about this happening is that we then get to redefine it.
I am nervous. But, that's OK. It's good to feel nervous. It makes me feel alive. I'd rather be nervous and doing something with my life than feel safe and remain stagnant.
That, or a close version of it, is what I typically repeat to myself before speaking. It starts out breathy and shaky and then it's hyping me up and I'm laughing right through the nerves before I know it! You feel a little crazy, sure, but I'd rather feel a little loony than a lot scared.
The great thing about this little mantra is that it is not exclusive to public speaking. It can be used for all of the scary things that shade themselves under the umbrella of fear. Try it out.
I was inspired to write about fear this week because of a few words that a dear Social Sister of mine, Abbey Wade, posted. (Social Sisters are what I call my friends that I have gained through social media outlets. I hope to hug and laugh and meet them all in person one day!) She had this to say about fear:
Here's the thing about fear: It cripples you. It deflates you. It consumes you. It tricks you into believing that what you're doing is somehow wrong.
You're afraid because you're too busy worrying about the outcome, or the whispers, and less about the thing you're doing.
But those whispers are there because you're doing something. Being something.
Nobody whispers about things that don't matter. They whisper about things that make them think.
So let them whisper. And let the whispers be your quiet cheerleaders while you dance your dance and dream your dream.
Those whispers mean you're doing it right.
Yes, yes, YES!
I love when I read little pieces like this. They are the little pieces that slide right into your soul and make you feel less alone in your journey. I could've kissed Abbey for sharing this.
It's true: fear tricks us.
It tries to convince us that we are incapable of doing great or necessary things in our lives. And it will continue to do so as long as you treat fear like a scary and unwanted thing.
Here's a thought: What if we embraced fear?
Instead of letting fear creep into our lives, let's try holding the door open for it and welcoming it right in. Invite it in for coffee. Ask how it's day is going. Make a friend out of fear!
There is a line in a John Mayer song (The Heart of Life) that inspired me to change the way that I viewed fear altogether. The line is:
Fear is a friend who's misunderstood.
So. Much. TRUTH.
Fear is not our foe. It's a friendly reminder that we are about to do something that has the potential to better the person that we are, or those around us, based on how we handle it. If it hurts us or others or hinders our reputation, it is only because we have allowed it to.
It's only when we fight fear that we end up in those dark places. Instead, take it by the hand. Ask why its there. Find out what it needs.
After all, it is the keeper of the answers we are all looking for. It has them because it is made up of the questions we are too afraid to ask.
We just might find our most desired answers once we make the choice to befriend our greatest fears.