You Can Lead A Speaker to the Stage, but…

You can’t make him drink.  Or would that be… speak? My guess is you can’t make anyone who is afraid of the stage do anything. 🙂

Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking …. it’s easier than you think.

overcoming the fear of public speaking

Has anyone really, and I mean really, broken down the fear of public speaking? I don’t think so, at least not for me. All I’ve heard or read: Face your fear, prepare, ….. blah, blah, blah.  No matter how many speeches I give, I’ll still look for ways to get out of a speech at a club or at the Bureau because of that gnawing little fear that doesn’t ever seem to go away.  And don’t deny it – you do too (look for ways to get out of giving a speech).  OR – maybe – we don’t even volunteer to give a speech or take a speaking role.

here are some theories and some good advice about the fear of speaking, but most of  it mainly gets lumped into the basics for handling a fear like:

  • face your fear
  • focus on something else, it’s all in your mind
  • learn from how an individual handled it and can now help you – the tips they use, and so can you!, or
  • head to toastmasters, which works by helping you overcome the fear by facing it head on and overpowering it with technique and practice,

but the fear is still there: naked / afraid / and cowering in the corner. And many times, it doesn’t seem to go away. ever.

What is it that you REALLY fear? Yes – You. 

I am reaching out here to ask every bureau member that question, because the only thing keeping the Bureaus’ stages from being full and packed with topics and people month to month is ……… fear.  You may disagree with my strong statement here but it is my intent to call you out. Reasons like time and availability constraints, prior commitments, no good topics, just not ready, no topic, I don’t need the practice …. are all just excuses. Excuses based in fear.

For people serious about taking their speaking to the next level, all should be fighting for time on the stage. We should all be seeing each other getting better, stronger, more focused, clearer messages, and more so…watching our members move to bigger opportunities. ” We become part of what we are around.”

I’m nobody special – no speaking expert, no phd, or famous person, but I wanted to know what was wrong with me – what it was with this ‘fear’.

Also, I have some insight being the student of human behavior, But – leading the Emerging Speakers Bureau, and coaching Small Businesses on the power of speaking for their business and books,  I live the excuses everyday of why people don’t want to be on the stage speaking.

It’s not the stage – it’s an invisible plane:

Most of us lump public speaking into 1 big bucket, and lump in the fear of speaking – that fear of being on the stage – right in there with it. But I have a simple theory:  It’s not the whole stage, and it’s not standing there in front of the group….

it’s the invisible plane you cross, when you move from ‘your world’ into ‘their world’, where you move from a world you know and control into a world of unknowns; that first step onto the stage.

The fear comes when you have to cross the plane from a world focused on you, that you can control, to a demanding world of many, different people there to listen to you.

Many experts’ tell you to ‘go deep’ to understand your source of the fear and where it comes from.  I say, forget that, and accept this small genetic caveman fact:

back in the beginning of time, it was all about survival. Survival based on acceptance by other members of the tribe. There was safety in numbers. The other related caveman fact at play: fight or flight. You needed to quickly assess whether the other person was going to attack you, but when there is more than 1, the base instinct is to run.

That caveman instinct / fear won’t go away, but it can be managed.

It’s so easy to fail in ‘our world’ since we only have to answer to ourselves.  It’s harder to ‘fail’ in front of a group, because it’s 1 to many – you’re outnumbered. But when you FLIP that mindset to seeing the value of the 1 to many approach that by providing some value to group, you are saving yourself at least 4 hours of lead chasing, and potentially closing sales at the say time – then stepping over that invisible plane of fear is merely the fear of 1 cold call vs over 25!  That makes it worth it to me!

I challenge you to kick the caveman habit!!! Stop committing to speak and then backing down. When there’s a request for people to step up into roles – take them!

Step over that invisible plane by changing your mindset. A mindset that says – “I AM WORTH MORE / better .. And I WILL DO WHAT IT TAKES to push myself passed my own personally set limitations and break free from my own chains. I will use the bureau as my sandbox – to develop – to take the evals & keep them for what they are,  match them with what I am trying to achieve, and take the stage again and again until I perfect my speech. This is the best place to do this!”

Imagine the marketability of you and your service(s) when you can demonstrate growth & show people that you respected their evals and applied them for results !  Imagine how that makes your fellow members feel and that maybe – just maybe – you can inspire them to do the same thing!?! How cool would that be?

But ….. You still can only lead anyone to water….. But you can’t make them do.

Only if you had what it takes, only if you signed up for a speaking role…

“There is no fear for the one whose thought is not confused.” – Buddha

When will you step up and use the Bureau as your stage and work on your topics? Take the opportunity to use the Bureau stage time to practice giving the talks of your life. Take advantage of it.

Overcoming the fear of public speaking is incorrect advice…manage your fear, expectations, and take steps forward.

So when will we be hearing your next presentation?  The only thing missing on the stage is YOU!

 1. Control the caveman;

2. Change your mindset;

3. Schedule some Bureau Stage time.

Good luck!  And please share your tips and techniques for overcoming the fear.



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2 Responses to “You Can Lead A Speaker to the Stage, but…”

  1. Lionnel Yamentou
    June 10, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

    Great article Rae-Ann. You make very good points about the fear of public speaking we all experience.
    If your objective was to encourage and motivate members to fight for stage time at bureau meetings, you got me. They will be seeing more of me on stage if they don’t equally respond to your call to action.

    Thank you!

    • Rae-Ann Ruszkowski
      June 11, 2014 at 9:32 am #

      Thanks Lionnel! I know Victor can always count on you to step up, as you always take advantage of opportunities available at the Bureau. I almost mentioned you by name actually, because you do jump at what’s available.

      More people should also take advantage of what the Bureau offers – like the opportunity to try new topics, new techniques, refining their message, increase exposure, etc. I’ll get off my soapbox now ;-).

      The bureau is here to help people launch careers, grow businesses, refine focus and topics, make connections. You name it!

      Keep up the great work Lionnel!!