Imagine that you have been asked to give a reading at your best friend’s wedding. You have the text to study and practice. Your friend is counting on you to make a positive impact on his or her event. You learn that there will be 400 people in the church, most of them strangers. Or imagine that your boss hands you a folder on a new project your group is working on and tells you that you are giving a fifteen minute presentation to the company at the annual meeting. Or imagine that your professor selected you to tell your 150 person Modern U.S. History class about the latest developments in the campaign for the 2020 election. You have a month.
Your hands are already sweating. Your heartbeat is almost audible in your chest. You try to take some deep breaths to calm down. You wipe your hands on your pants and tell yourself it will be ok. And every day for the next month, every time you think forward to the wedding day, or the annual meeting, or whatever the event is, almost every hour of every day, you have the same reaction.
My hands are sweating just writing this down. I have to wipe them on my pants in order to keep typing.
That is fear. I have it. I have lived with it since I was a child. Maybe you have it.
I am here to tell you that you can overcome that fear and be successful when you stand up at the lectern on that Saturday afternoon. And I am here to tell you that there are very few feelings in life that are as awesome as successfully speaking in front of a crowd when you have the fear we have.
I guarantee that you can overcome your fear of public speaking and present successfully. Even in front of a room full of strangers. Even from a lectern up on a stage, with all eyes on you. Guaranteed. No question about it. I am not saying it is easy to do. I am saying that there are specific techniques, habits, and skills you can learn, that anyone can learn, that will allow you to speak successfully in front of groups of people - friends, co-workers, church groups, and even total strangers. You will be able to incorporate these techniques, habits, and skills into your everyday life. Eventually, you will not doubt your ability to do this, even if your hands still sweat at the thought of doing it.
If you paid me for a workshop or a coaching session or a seminar where I shared my story with you and we worked together on skills you are about to learn and you applied those skills, I would refund your money if you were truly unable to successfully get up in front of others and give a presentation. You can control your fear. All you have to do is apply some of the techniques I am going to share with you.
A word of caution — reading about it is not going to be the same as practicing it in a group, at a seminar, at a workshop, in your office conference room, at the community hall at your church, or joining a local Toastmasters group, or taking a class at college. But the skills and techniques you will read about here over the next days and months work for anyone who puts in an effort to apply them. I encourage you to study this material and then find a way to practice with it.
This journal is not going to be a primer on building a great presentation, with slides, and drama instruction, and showmanship. That is beyond the scope of this material. This journal is going to deal with the fear.
This is not rocket science. This is not advanced calculus or a “life or death” surgery. But it is the subject of so much stress, so much real fear, that many people avoid putting themselves in a position of speaking in front of others. This impacts job performance and career advancement. It impacts performance in schools, grades, and educational opportunities. It is a genuine psychological barrier that prevents many from succeeding.
I know I can help you. I know I can help because this affliction is my affliction. I have battled it since I was a child. I still find myself facing my fear even today. And every time it surfaces, I overcome it. I don’t eliminate it entirely — I deal with it on a day to day basis and I have been able to build a successful legal practice in the courtroom where I routinely speak in front of groups of strangers.
This journal will help you deal with it too. I look forward to working with you in the days ahead. Please feel free to share these materials and the link to this journal with your friends and co-workers who may need the same help.