5 Lessons Learned From Conquering My Fear of Public Speaking


Week 402 (brendan@brendanbarca.com)

Here's your weekly dose of Fuel Your Mind Friday where I share business building ideas, lifestyle design hacks, and inspirational content to help you thrive in your work and find purpose in your life.

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PSA: My wife, Pema Sherpa, and I have another blog called The Mindful Minute! Check it out.

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5 LESSONS I'VE LEARNED FROM CONQUERING MY FEAR OF PUBLIC SPEAKING

I still have this vivid memory from college of stumbling my way through a painful 15-minute presentation. The content wasn't challenging. It was one of those "present on whatever you want" kind of assignments. But, that didn't matter. As an awkward college who was petrified of public speaking, I didn't stand a chance.

Just over a decade later, it's hard to believe that public speaking has become the central part of my career and my primary source of income. Week after week, people keep giving me money to hear me talk.

The half-baked college version of me would've found this hilarious and outlandish. He probably would've thought I was pulling his leg.

Yet, it's not some sick college joke. It's the truth.

So, how does a stumbling-bumbling-nervous-nelly college kid turn into a professional speaker?

I've been asking myself that a lot lately too. So much so, that I've decided to write down my thoughts of how this unlikely turnaround came to be... and share them with you.

Whether you're trying to be a better presenter, or just conquer some lingering fear, I hope these lessons I've learned along the way help you too:

How I Conquered My Fear of Public Speaking (And You Can Too):

1) Focus on Service, Not Self

My most painful presentations (for myself and the audience) have occurred when I was overly focused on myself. The whole time I was up there, I couldn't stop asking myself "What do they think about me?" This single thought distracted me from my purpose on stage, which was to deliver the content.

It wasn't until I shifted my approach toward serving the audience, that I started to break out of my fear and become a good presenter. To this day, before every talk I write in my journal "SERVE" in capital letters. This reminds me that this talk isn't about me at all... it's about the people who came to learn something new. Focus on service, not self.

2) Practice More Than You Think You Should

When I found myself in sales in my early 20s, I realized I'd be forced to present. The only choice I had was to conquer this fear that had tormented me since my college days. So, I did the only thing I could think of. I practiced over and over again.

After work, I grabbed an empty conference room. I presented aloud to empty chairs. I simulated the actual day. I let my body go through the motions. This way, when game day came, my body and mind would know what to do. Practice more than you think you should.

3) Structure Saves You

One thing I learned from sales was how to structure a presentation. Just like a good novel, it had to have a begging, a middle and an end. It should have distinct parts and an agenda. This not only helps the audience follow along and comprehend what you're saying, but it also helps you stay organized so you don't lose your place.

Create a rigid structure and practice one section at a time. The structure will save you when you can't remember what's next.

4) Change the Story in Your Mind

You are who you tell yourself you are. When I was in college, I told myself I was a bad presenter. So, quite obviously, I lived up to my own expectations. When I got my first sales job I had the opportunity to change this narrative for myself and those around me.

In my journal, I started writing "I am a great presenter" each day at the top of the page. Years later, I still use this concept, but have upgraded my affirmation to read, "I am a keynote speaker." You become who you think you are. Change the story in your mind.

5) Put Yourself in the Arena (Again and Again)

As the great Lil Wayne once said, "repetition is the father of learning." The best in any field only become the best through years of reps. However, at the beginning, in order to get reps in you must throw yourself in the arena. In other words, look for opportunities to practice and sign up. This will force your hand and you'll learn from the experience.

The arena is that place you're afraid to be right now. Find your arena and get yourself in there. If you get knocked in one fight. Get up there again.

If it's possible for a half-baked college kid with a fear of public speaking to become a keynote speaker, it's possible for you to overcome whatever fear is pulling you down too. Identify it and then use the principles above to overcome it.

See you on the other side.

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Thanks for subscribing,

- Brendan

Let's connect on LinkedIn!

brendanbarca.com

p.s. If you're a longtime subscriber you may have noticed this is a repost from a few years back. As a new father juggling a lot sometimes I need to repurpose old content. Thanks for your support!

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