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4 Steps to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

4 Steps to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

Fear of public speaking ranks extremely high for most people.  Experts say that it is feared even more than death!  It’s easy to assume that you are not very good at it when, in fact, the problem is caused less by your ability to speak and more by your fear of speaking.  Once you break that barrier of fear, you may find out that you’re pretty darn good at it.  Not only that, you might even love it!  As someone who broke that very barrier, I understand this fear intimately.  Here are three steps to get you started in your journey.

Write down at least one way that this fear is limiting your life.

What is this fear stopping you from doing? If you can figure this out, then your motivation for overcoming it will increase.  Is the fear preventing you from speaking up in meetings or in the class room? Do you feel awkward at social gatherings? Do you choose your courses at school based on whether or not there are presentations to do? I sure did! All of that applied to me. I got sick of being afraid.  Everyone else seemed to be having so much more fun doing things that made my stomach churn knots.

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Join a speaking group.

Probably the most popular group is Toastmasters International.  It is a wonderful environment full of encouragement.  Sure it’s nerve-wracking! Sure your palms will get sweaty! Heck, I even cried during my first speech!  I completed the Competent Communicator Award which entails doing 10 very specific types of speeches.  The order of the speeches was well thought out.  The first one is just about introducing yourself to the group.  By the time you get to the last one, you are using effective gestures and visual aids. You might have even entered a contest or two by then!  I can’t tell you how liberating it felt to finally break that barrier.  I enjoy  public speaking more than I ever thought possible.  No, it didn’t turn me into an extrovert, but my inner world was finally ready to be shown to the outer world.  Should you decide you want to take speaking to a deeper level, there are many options for growth at Toastmasters.

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Acknowledge your fearful feelings.

Realize that you are afraid because you care.  It’s OK to have butterflies.  It’s OK to have sweaty palms.  You respect the task at hand and you care about doing a good job.  That’s great!  People can feel that you care.  They can also tell if you don’t care.  When you do care, people want to hear what you have to say.  I honestly used to think that people didn’t want to hear what I had to say, so I would rush through my speech.  I learned that I had valuable information to share that people wanted to hear! Once you truly believe that what you have to share has value, your speaking will improve dramatically.  The more practice you have with public speaking, the better you will become at controlling those fearful feelings.  You’ll be able to use them in a more positive, productive manner that will actually fuel you.

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Talk about what you know.

When you truly understand a topic, it is easier to focus on getting the idea across rather than trying to remember something word for word.  Being able to ad-lib gives you some freedom with your words.  This also lowers your anxiety.  If you must talk about something out of your comfort zone, research your topic well.  Try to relate it to something in your life so it becomes easier to talk about.

Public speaking is a skill that can be learned.  It can also be forgotten, just like other types of skills.  Once you break that barrier, keep yourself tuned up by either continuing with your speaking group or actively seeking out reasons to speak in public.

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Jennifer Wasylenko

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

What do I want to do with my life? It’s a question all of us think about at one point or another.

For some, the answer comes easily. For others, it takes a lifetime to figure out.

It’s easy to just go through the motions and continue to do what’s comfortable and familiar. But for those of you who seek fulfillment, who want to do more, these questions will help you paint a clearer picture of what you want to do with your life.

1. What are the things I’m most passionate about?

The first step to living a more fulfilling life is to think about the things that you’re passionate about.

What do you love? What fulfills you? What “work” do you do that doesn’t feel like work? Maybe you enjoy writing, maybe you love working with animals or maybe you have a knack for photography.

The point is, figure out what you love doing, then do more of it.

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2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

Think about your past experiences and the things in your life you’re most proud of.

How did those accomplishments make you feel? Pretty darn good, right? So why not try and emulate those experiences and feelings?

If you ran a marathon once and loved the feeling you had afterwards, start training for another one. If your child grew up to be a star athlete or musician because of your teachings, then be a coach or mentor for other kids.

Continue to do the things that have been most fulfilling for you.

3. If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?

Here’s a cool exercise: Think about what you would do if you had no limits.

If you had all the money and time in the world, where would you go? What would you do? Who would you spend time with?

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These answers can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t mean you need millions of dollars to be happy though.

What it does mean is answering these questions will help you set goals to reach certain milestones and create a path toward happiness and fulfillment. Which leads to our next question …

4. What are my goals in life?

Goals are a necessary component to set you up for a happy future. So answer these questions:

Once you figure out the answers to each of these, you’ll have a much better idea of what you should do with your life.

5. Whom do I admire most in the world?

Following the path of successful people can set you up for success.

Think about the people you respect and admire most. What are their best qualities? Why do you respect them? What can you learn from them?

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You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.[1] So don’t waste your time with people who hold you back from achieving your dreams.

Spend more time with happy, successful, optimistic people and you’ll become one of them.

6. What do I not like to do?

An important part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is honestly assessing what you don’t want to do.

What are the things you despise? What bugs you the most about your current job?

Maybe you hate meetings even though you sit through 6 hours of them every day. If that’s the case, find a job where you can work more independently.

The point is, if you want something to change in your life, you need to take action. Which leads to our final question …

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7. How hard am I willing to work to get what I want?

Great accomplishments never come easy. If you want to do great things with your life, you’re going to have to make a great effort. That will probably mean putting in more hours the average person, getting outside your comfort zone and learning as much as you can to achieve as much as you can.

But here’s the cool part: it’s often the journey that is the most fulfilling part. It’s during these seemingly small, insignificant moments that you’ll often find that “aha” moments that helps you answer the question,

“What do I want to do with my life?”

So take the first step toward improving your life. You won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Ly via unsplash.com

Reference

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