How to overcome the fear of public speaking?

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” That is the question that was asked at the end of the very inspiring Lean In Conference I attended last month. We had to write our answer on the back of our badge.

I, without a doubt, wrote: Speak up! The next and last question was: What is stopping you? I immediately thought, WHO is stopping me? I took my badge as I left the conference, still with this question in my head. Then, I put my badge in the nearest bin I found, thinking WHO, not WHAT. And afterwards, I took a decision: this needs to change…That’s why I share with you my experience about how to overcome the fear of public speaking.

After the conference, I saw my friend Lidia, who last December proposed to me to speak about Facebook advertisement. Still tg.hinking about who is stopping me, I asked her about the event. We talked about it, and this time we fixed the date: the talk will take place on March 4th at the Women in Digital Switzerland event.

About two weeks after the conference, I went to the Zurich Storytelling meetup and was inspired by the stories. I thought: I could tell my own story. And then, the question came to my mind again: Who is stopping me? As the cards to volunteer were passed to me, I thought about it for a moment… I have never practiced telling a story with a beginning and an end in 5 minutes. I passed this time, but I made a promise to myself, that I would prepare the talk for the next time. At the end of the meetup, as Joel, the organiser was wrapping up, he said,  “If you know someone who could be our next guest speaker, or if you would like to volunteer, get in touch.” I made a note in my head, and I thought who is stopping me?

VolunteerAt the end of that week I had to wait for my son, who for the first time, had gone alone to the city. He went to the movies with a friend. I told him I would pick him up and we would take the train home together. I knew I had more than an hour to spare therefore I bought a notebook and a pen. The cafe next to the movies was closed, so I decided to wait for him in the cinema’s lobby. Fortunately, there was a very comfy and empty sofa. I sat on it, put my headphones on, listened to Chopin and started writing. I wrote non-stop for a very long time. People went to buy popcorn during the break, a man sat next to me, then left again, and all I did was write. I could not stop. I had this story so clearly in my head, I wanted to write as many details as I could.

The next day, my son went to the ski camp. The rest of the family was already waiting for me in the mountains. I decided to stay at home one more night. I took my notes and typed them into a Google Doc. When I finished, I recorded myself telling the story. Not perfect, but that should do. I waited about 3 days before I contacted Joel. I emailed him saying: “If you have not found anybody else, I would love to tell my story in the next meetup”. He took me up on that, and I will be the next guest speaker on the 11th of March at the Zurich Storytelling event.

And lastly, I was contacted by the American Women Club of Zurich to ask me if I was interested in volunteering this year again. I have been teaching a fermentation workshop during their Workshop Week for the past couple of years and I have enjoyed it. That’s why I said, with pleasure! I will be talking about what probiotic foods are, why we should eat them, and how to make them. This event will take place on the 2nd of April at the Workshop Week event.

So for the question, what or who is stopping me? I now have a better answer! And now you know how to overcome the fear of public speaking!

What about you? What would you do if you weren’t afraid? And what, or who, is stopping you?

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