That Time I Conquered My Fear of Public Speaking
I have always hated speaking in front of people. I also hate being the centre of attention. The thought of doing presentations at school and university would always fill me with dread, but I could get through them because I knew they would be relatively short, with the longest having been around 20 minutes.
Recently at work, I've started delivering workshops that are around 1 hour long, and even after those I'm left exhausted. It's all due to the stress and anxiety leading up to the actual event.
Once I get going I'm fine, but there is nothing worse than apprehension when you are scared. However, my latest challenge was to deliver a full day training course on marketing.
I thought it would be a great personal development move for me, and if I delivered it my employer would pay for the qualification for me to do it. I have always loved learning, so I thought what the hell.
But for the month leading up to it, I kept thinking 'why did I volunteer for this?' The thought of the day filled me with panic whenever it came up (which unfortunately was a lot). Another part of me kept thinking 'if you do this, you will prove to yourself that you can do this.' There was never a question of me backing out, but it did cause me to have several panic attacks.
THE BIG DAY
To combat the anxiety, I did a lot of preparation and rehearsal, which helped me a great deal. I broke the course down into manageable chunks of 1 hour chunks so I could time myself.
The day of the course finally arrived, and there was nothing more I could do. I got to the venue early to set up, and the delegates began to arrive. To make myself more comfortable, I made sure I chatted to them before the course started to get to know them.
At the end of the day, they were there to learn, not to judge me.
Then the course began. I took a deep breath, introduced myself, and got started. After the first 15 minutes everything got easier and I relaxed. I may have fluffed a couple of words, but we've all done that.
I was dreading the evaluation forms at the end of the course, but I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of positive comments. I'd done it!
I was exhausted by the end, but I was so glad I'd done it. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I'm in no hurry to do it again for a while, but now I know I can do it.
I will always get nervous before any kind of presentation, but by pushing myself through my anxiety, the dread and the fear, I showed myself just how capable I am.
WHAT I LEARNT FROM THIS PARTICULAR EXPERIENCE:
Some level of anxiety is good - it has always shaped my work ethic.
Sometimes you have to take risks and do things that scare you - the payoff will be amazing.
Look after yourself during times of stress, otherwise you will wear yourself out.
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