The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
H.P. Lovecraft’s words are as true today as they were back then. You can file just about any fear that we face as human beings – fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of ridicule – right up under the category of fear of the unknown. At the very top of that list will be fear of speaking before groups of people. In fact, polls suggest that people would rather die than to speak in front of a group of people. Why? As mentioned: fear of failure, ridicule and loss. It is a battle that I face constantly as I speak before audiences, a battle that has never be won per se, but only managed. It’s one reason that I have my eight year-old son doing motivational video speeches – to get him started early to overcoming the fear of speaking before groups. In my coaching practice and as a member of Toastmasters International (a public speaking association), I implore my clients to speak – to stand and deliver. Here are four reasons why:
It Releases Your Creative Genius
Thomas Edison wrote that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. When you speak, you release that one percent. It is not people who hold us back; it is our own debilitating sense of fear, our thinking that we are not equipped for the task at hand. Each of us is in possession of a genius which, when nurtured, fills us with an incredible power. Fear is a suppressive force; its job is to hold you down and hold you back. When you move toward your fear of engaging groups, you also move toward releasing your inner genius.
In Toastmasters, we call it the Ice Breaker Speech; it’s the speech a new member delivers to acquaint him or herself with the group. I fondly remember my Ice Breaker and how nervous I was in the days and hours leading up to it. I must have paced back and forth for a mile before that moment finally arrived. The feeling of empowerment I felt after I delivered my Ice Breaker was amazing! It does not cure your nerves, but it does make you even more excited to speak!
You Become a Better Human Being
Why? Because you have enhanced a skill-set that most people loathe to improve upon: communication. Wise men speak, says Plato, because they have something to say. Think about it like this: What could you have more of in your life by now if you simply had the courage and the ‘know-how’ to have asked for it? A raise? A better commitment from your spouse? More cooperation from your children? The ability to communicate improves your quality of life because it improves you as a human being.
Moving past the fear of speaking before groups of people is crucial to becoming better at any role you function in your life. You instantly become a better parent, co-worker, professional etc. Our success in life boils down to not only what we want, but how we ask for what we want.
You Gain Instant Credibility
Moving past your fear of speaking before groups gives you one element that most people lack: credibility. Credibility in human relations is absolutely essential. For every credibility gap, there is a gullibility gap, writes Richard Cobden.
Credibility cures gullibility. Once you master the fear of speaking before groups, nothing is impossible for you. Every person with whom you come into contact, from your kids to your spouse to your manager, will know where you stand and why. You will develop an arsenal of solutions to solve everyday problems. You will get more out of people. You will get more done in your own life.
You Open Up Entrepreneurial Possibilities
The latent, once-hidden talent of public speaking opens up a multitude of possibilities – including entrepreneurship! John Barrymore writes, Happiness often sneaks in through the door you didn’t know you left open. Moving past your fear of public speaking leaves many doors ajar.
Once you move to conquer your fear of speaking before groups, things begin to bubble up to the surface of your consciousness. Ideas begin to spring forth. Now you have got something to say and the world needs to hear it. You may choose to say it through a book or video or lecture. Whatever the method, you will find opportunity knocking at your door and the entrepreneur in you will answer!
Make it a point to stand and deliver. Look up a local Toastmasters group in your area. Ask your family and friends to evaluate your core skills at speaking. Who knows, you might just change the world. It’s all about becoming better!
W. Eric Croomes is America’s Life Trainer and Author of Life’s a Gym: Seven Fitness Principles to Get the Best of Both
Visit Eric and download the book at http://www.infinitestrategiescoaching.com