As a professional speaker who specialises in leadership, personal effectiveness and life improvement, I have the privilege of appearing on programmes that feature some of the world’s top experts like Brain Tracy, the renowned motivational speaker, Professor John Kotter, the respected business guru, celebrities like actor Christopher Reeve and musical superstars like Jewel. I give keynote addresses at about seventy-five major conferences a year and speak to large audiences across North America, in the Caribbean and in Asia. Yet very few people know that the greatest fear of my life was once public speaking.
While I was in school, I would avoid any opportunity to speak in front of people for fear of failure. If a teacher asked me to give an oral report to the class or speak on a certain subject, I would always find some excuse not to. My fear of public speaking affected my confidence and prevented me from doing many of the things I knew in my heart I could do. It was not until I took a public speaking course from the Dale Carnegie organisation that I began to change. And once I did, a new world unfolded for me. I have since discovered I was not alone in my fear. It has been reported that most people fear speaking in front of an audience even more than death itself. Talking to a large group of people draws us out of the circle of security that we tend to live in and forces us to confront an entirely foreign experience. But two things can dramatically reduce your fear of public speaking (as well as any other fear for that matter): preparation and practice. By taking a public speaking course that will prepare you for speaking before groups and offer you a regular forum to practise in front of a group, you will soon manage your fear and eventually master it.
Excerpt from Who Will Cry When You Die by Robin Sharma, www.robinsharma.com