It was only with strangers. I would feel my stomach knot, my palms sweat. I could feel the heat rising from my neck and chest, getting red and blotchy. It was so obvious that I had no confidence. I was sure people would think that I had nothing smart to say. I would crumble.
Even asking the question made it happen. I was in a Sales Training program (feels like a million years ago) but I already knew that this was becoming a major problem for me.
It was just so embarrassing. Even when I didn’t think I was nervous, the red face was the worst. So I asked the question. What can I do to stop feeling so nervous speaking in front of people. And what can I do to stop it being so obvious.
The trainer was super-professional. He looked like he had never had a moment of doubt or nerves in his life. And the question kind of threw him. He said that he was a sales trainer, not a speaker trainer and that he didn’t really know the tactics or methodologies for successful speaking.
And then he paused.
He apologized and said, you know I think I can help you.
I’ll never forget what he said.
You see, he said, I also used to get nervous and suffer from stage fright. Even if it was a small training group. And then I realized that I was telling myself really scary stories.
About how the audience knew more than me, that I didn’t have enough experience, that I wasn’t smart enough, that, I would be a disappointment…
And then he continued, and I like most people, have enough evidence, in my past, of people and situations that taught me those stories. But I made a decision. That I wanted to do this work. That I love it and I’m good at it.
And everyday I tell myself this story. And now I know it’s the truth.
He seemed shy to have suddenly gotten so personal, and then he cleared his throat, smiled and asked for more questions.
It made such a huge difference. Of course, changing my story didn’t happen overnight. But it started a new path for me. One that seriously changed my life. And helped me become a speaker.
Actually it was the start of my transformation from severe stage fright to loving the stage more than anything else I do (even though I still get nervous!).
What’s stopping you from speaking up the way you’d like to?
Share your Story here.