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Fear of Public Speaking

The fear of public speaking seems to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest fear that people have. it’s something that I used to have for many, many years, and I think I feared it because I really cared what people thought, and didn’t want people to judge me. Ironically, because I feared it, my fears came true, and I was one of the worst public speakers possible, literally. However, things began to change over the course of the past 4 years, and my public speaking skills kept getting better and better, to the point now where I barely get nervous to talk in front of 2,500 people. How did I get over the fear of public speaking? I’m going to share my story below.

Growing up, I wasn’t the most popular kid and never had a ton of friends. It bothered me a little, but not too much because I was a very independent person and enjoyed doing things on my own. Was I shy? Sort of when it came to people I didn’t know, but get me around friends and family, the people I felt comfortable with, then I really opened up! If there was one thing that I dreaded, though, it was talking in front of a group of people. I hated it. I mean really, really bad. The worst feeling in the world was when the teacher told us that we had to do an individual presentation in front of the class. My stomach sank, and I would get all jittery because I really despised it that much! After countless hours of preparation, everything that I seemed to memorize went out the window as soon as I stood in front of the class. My hands were sweaty, voice was shaky, I felt like my heart rate was up past 150 beats per minute, and everything that I talked about never flowed smoothly and to be honest, didn’t really make sense. When I finished the presentation, people would clap and I felt like the only reason they did was because they had to. It’s rude not to, right, even if it was a terrible presentation? Public speaking just wasn’t my thing!

Things got a little better in college when I took my first communications course, but out of all the tough courses that I took, including honors classes, this was the one I was most nervous about. Why? Because I knew the entire class revolved around speaking to others! Not cool. I learned some important things like hand gestures, interacting with the audience, but even after the course was over, I still feared public speaking. After college, I began a career as a Financial Advisor, and yes, I was pretty much forced to step completely out of my comfort zone and speak to people. The worst part about it was that I knew these people didn’t want to speak to me. It sucked. Countless hours of cold calling, talking to groups, and pestering my friends and family, which I absolutely HATED by the way, just wasn’t my cup of tea, but it forced me to begin to feel comfortable with talking to others. However, I didn’t like what I was talking about, so there was absolutely no passion in my voice, and people saw that, and that’s why I was never successful as a Financial Advisor.

My public speaking skills really didn’t get better until I became a Beachbody Coach. It was very interesting because I found it to be much easier to talk about Beachbody to other people and in front of a group because it was something that I was very passionate about and believed in. However, it was still intimidating the first time I was asked to speak at an event. There I was, standing on stage, looking out at 400 people with their eyes gazing at me, and I felt that little sink in my stomach once again, hands began to shake, but I took a deep breath, calmed myself down a little, and shared my story. After that, I was asked to speak over and over again at events, and what began to happen was the more I talked in front of people, the more comfortable I became, to the point where I spoke at so many events that it didn’t even phase me to get in front of 2,500 people and speak at the annual Coach’s Summit last month. As I became more comfortable and relaxed, I noticed how much better I was able to captivate audiences because I was speaking with so much passion, using my entire body to speak, showing people the real me. When people are nervous, the real them doesn’t come out, but when you aren’t focused on what other people think, are talking about something you believe in, the real you does come out, and you’re able to give amazing speeches.

If you have a fear of public speaking, remember, the only way for you to get over it is to actually do it over and over and over again, to the point where you feel comfortable. Practice makes perfect! No matter what, though, always speak from the heart. If you speak from the heart and people sense your passion, they will become just as excited as you are, and that’s what you want. Remember, you can conquer any fear, but the only way to do so is to tackle your fear head on!

If you’d like to talk to me about your fear of public speaking, feel free to email me at coachspence8@yahoo.com.

5 comments

  1. Excellent. The biggest fear imaginable for most people. It makes a difference if you have a deep belief in the subject your speaking on as you do now. Good insight Josh, keep it coming.

  2. Great advice Josh, I’m kind of the same way. When in school I dreaded public speaking and presentations. I think it was mainly due to the fact I did not want to be judged, especially in regards to the topic I’m presenting on because I wasn’t fully confident in what I learned. I feel that’s whats different about this business and makes it easier. The fact that we have been through the beachbody programs, love it and WANT to share it with others makes its it easier.

    Have you ever read the book “speak up”? I had to read it in 10th grade for a class of mine and it really helps as well.

    Thanks dude great post!

  3. Really great story Josh. Thanks for sharing. I completely agree with you. When I feel passionate about something I can talk in front of others much better!

  4. super advice… public speaking can be dreadful… I’ve gotten better over the years if it’s something that I’m passionate about

  5. Kristi Shepler /

    I seem to be revisiting High School a lot recently! Our Speech and Debate team had shirts made that said “The Number 2 fear is death and the Number 1 fear is public speaking” on the back it read “I do for fun what most people fear more then death!” Always made me laugh and calm me down before I had to do anything in front of people.
    I also did a lot of theater work and we changed the “Practice makes perfect” to “Perfect Practice makes perfection” since you always do everything you put your mind to I thought you might enjoy those!

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