Learning to Face Your Fear of Public Speaking


In high school I loved helping with the school plays, I would help with makeup, lighting, I was even the student director one year but never, did I want to be on stage.  I was happy behind the scenes.  My senior year, one of my teachers, Gerald Hyler, challenged me to sign up for speech contest.  He convinced me it would be good to step outside my comfort zone and take the stage. 
Mr. Hyler was right, that one contest, that one challenge, sparked a true passion for me, I quickly found I loved communicating with people, telling stories.  I went on to earn a degree in Communication and launched a career in broadcasting, a far cry from being happy and safe, behind the scenes, in my comfort zone.
There was no magic bullet that allowed me to get comfortable in front of an audience, but there were two key points Mr. Hyler had me focus on that I believe made the difference:
1. Practice, Practice, Practice – Know your content inside and out, practice out loud in front of a mirror, yes, it’s awkward but it works.  Practice where your voice needs to be soft or loud and where you need to pause.  Silence is uncomfortable but it drives home a point, or it allows you to collect your thoughts.
2. Lock eyes with your audience – Pick 2 or 3 people in your audience and tell them your story.  Mr. Hyler told me, because my speech was quite dramatic, to lock eyes with someone until they squirmed a bit.   Soon, you don’t even pay attention to the fact there are 2 or 200 people in the room, you are in the moment and you are focused on delivering the information to one person at a time.
To this day, I don’t know exactly what pushed me out of my comfort zone enough to say yes to Mr. Hyler and taking the stage.  What I do know, if I hadn’t taken the chance, my career path would not have been the same and I would have missed some incredible opportunities throughout my life.
Paying it forward, at Lead to Inspire, we want to help others face their fears and step outside their comfort zone.  Sign up today for “Overcoming your Fear of Public Speaking,” the first class starts March 8th.