There are a lot of things in life to be afraid of, some real, some imagined. In fact, 6.3 million Americans have a diagnosed phobia. While your phobias may go undiagnosed, we all have our weak points: spiders, heights, flying—you name it! Usually, these everyday fears don’t affect your life much—but what happens when your fears get in the way of how you run your business?
The fear of public speaking is a super common fear, even among successful business owners. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 75% of people have a fear of public speaking. So all those enviable successful business owners standing up to speak at conferences and conventions? Most of them are likely just as terrified of public speaking as you may be!
Scared of the Crowd? I Feel Ya.
Last week, I gave a talk to creatives at the University of Houston. Just like any other time, I got jittery before my talk, but unlike any I have done before, I arrived late (due to flights cancelled and delayed). I had to, on the fly, take a 50 minute speech and shave it down to a 20 minute speech. But like always once I got going, the momentum of my speech and of the audience swept me away. I overcame the terrifying obstacle, the talk went well and I was pleased by the feedback I received. (Much thanks to the Theater Department, I had a wonderful time.)
I’ll tell you this: it definitely gets a little easier every time.
…but it’s still a bit nerve-racking!
It’s taken me quite some time to get comfortable speaking in front of others. But hey, if I can do it, you can do it! I never thought I’d be a particularly good public speaker, but lo and behold, here I am with quite a few speaking gigs under my belt and more in the pipeline. Exciting!
Why You Need to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking
I’ll cut to the chase:
- Speaking engagements are a great way to extend your brand reach.
- Speaking at conferences and industry events provides more opportunities to network with the head honchos in your field.
- Speaking allows you to showcase your industry knowledge to both your competitors and to your current and potential customers.
Item #1: Extend your Brand Reach. Again, You Are Your Brand. Every time you show up and share your expertise is another opportunity to cultivate brand loyalty and trust.
Item #2: Meet and Greet. More. Oftentimes, it’s not that the big fish don’t want to talk to you. More so, they’re simply inaccessible and really busy, especially at popular events. By speaking, you’ve opened up a new world of networking opportunities!
Item #3: Show Your Stuff. Public speaking can help you get recognized in your industry, allowing you to enter a new echelon of authority. Cool, right?
Bottom Line: Want to be known as a respected industry leader with a great business and a powerful brand? Public speaking is your straight-shot skip-the-line ticket to the top!
HOW to Overcome Those Fears
I’ll give you my 3-step process. (Patent pending.)
Even if you’d rather be pushed from an airplane than speak, your public-speaking journey is just like nearly everyone else’s. Like most things in life, practice makes perfect. The more you speak in front of a group, the more you’ll feel at ease. It’ll get easier every time, I promise. When you come prepared with everything you need and all your talking points rehearsed, you’re sure to gain that extra shot of confidence you need to really kick butt. And lastly, breathe. One step at a time. Chin up and shake it out.
Most of all, public speaking is a massive opportunity to boost your brand. Picture your brand, center stage. Exciting, right? Just believe me—if you’re nervous, it’s normal. You got this!