Could you learn to love public speaking?

11 Nov

In my book Overpowering Fear – Defeating the #1 Challenge in Sales and Life I talk about giving an acceptance speech in New York for an award my company won and how utterly scared I was. So scared that when I returned home to San Jose I immediately enrolled in a Dale Carnegie course to learn to overpower my fear of public speaking. The classes were one evening a week for 8 weeks and were divided into three sections: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. How to Win Friends and Influence People. And my favorite (the reason I was there) Effective Public Speaking.

I loved the procedure they used for choosing the topic we would talk about each week. They would call us up one at a time and when the person before us started their 2 minute talk we picked a small folded piece of paper out of a basket. On that piece of paper was the subject of our speech. We now had less than 120 seconds to come up with what we wanted to talk about and put it into some type of order, and it had to last for the full two minutes. And believe me, those were long minutes.

Talk about tough. This was trial by fire. I remember the fear I felt in my gut each time I did it. What was comforting was knowing everyone in the class had to go through the very same thing, and I’m sure felt the same fear. But by the end of the 8 week course everyone in the class could get up and instantaneously talk for a full 2 minutes, on almost any subject.

Today I love getting up in front of groups and talking. Do I ever feel fear? Certainly. We never fully get over fear. What we want to learn is to walk through it. To overpower the fear. To not let it stop us. Feel it, acknowledge it, and then go ahead and do it anyway. What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen to you? Make a mistake? So what. That’s what life is for. How else would we ever learn?

How many times do babies pull themselves up only to lose their balance and fall down on their padded little bottoms? If they gave up because of fear of failing the majority of the world would be crawling their way to work. Can you picture that? Only the fearless ones would be standing tall and walking. So, which one are you, the crawler or the walker?

Love,

Michael

 

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