The bucket list: Face the fear of public speaking

(13th of a series)

”…Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.”  — Mark Twain

WHAT is your greatest fear?

Some say that for most men, the greatest of fears are the fear of death, fear of failure and fear of public speaking.

I know of someone who is deathly afraid of dogs, completely convinced that dogs are out to bite her. Telling her that her fear is baseless only drives her into raging fits. There is another I know who cannot abide the polka dot print design on anything she sees. There are a number of people who are afraid of riding boats and planes and just the thought of being in either one makes them nauseous. Weird huh? But who is to say that their fear is not valid as yours.

There are perhaps as many kinds of fears as there are people on earth but the one that many people admit to is the fear of speaking before crowds.

Psychology can dig up all the reasons for such fears deeply entrenched in the human psyche. But whatever the reason is, there is a time during one’s life that confronting that fear that paralyzes you from fully functioning and realizing your full potential on earth needs to be addressed.  It is time for a face-off.

If you are so inclined to add this to your bucket list, try mustering enough courage to face this one fear that you think is worth conquering.

People admit that having them speak in front of a crowd is like facing a firing squad. They would rather melt away than speak up. Experts say that there are baby steps that can be taken to conquer this.

The one thing that characterizes people who speak in public at a drop of a hat is confidence— lots of it— that it practically oozes out of their pores. It is doubtful they started out with that level of confidence right off the bat. Most professional public speakers probably had to start being afraid themselves until they had a winning judo match with that gnawing fear in their gut.

Mastery comes with taking baby steps, learning consistently from those that went before and were great, engaging speakers. Choose a role model and emulate what works. First off, one must dive deep into the sea of available information and cull out nuggets of wisdom on wide ranging areas to know what to speak of. In short, read up and never stop learning.

Otherwise, one would simply be winging it with disjointed thoughts and flawed delivery. It sounds cheesy but there may be some truth to the advice — fake it until you make it. In the beginning, that is probably how it works until repetitive practice over time builds that precious confidence and the chutzpah to speak unrehearsed and extemporaneously in public. Sometimes, the words come out so smoothly that you know without a doubt there is a higher spirit that flows in a particular speaker.

Perhaps, the same is true of any other fear that you decide to have a face–off with. The greatest battle is with yourself when you finally decide you have had it living with the fear that threatens to eat you up and finally doing something about it. One day, you might even surprise yourself on how far you have gone with that ounce of courage you mustered early on in order to gain mastery of a particular kind of fear.

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail monette.maglaya@asianjournalinc.com

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