Mark Twain wrote: “There are two types of speakers: Those who get nervous and those who are liars”.
I used to be petrified of public speaking. I almost turned down a remarkable leadership opportunity because of that silly fear. As soon as I was asked if I would be the Commercial President for MIAMI Realtors, I could feel my stomach clench because I knew I would have to speak in public. A LOT! I told Brian Sharpe, the Commercial President who had asked me and who is a super suave public speaker, that I would think about it and get back to him. As soon as I hung up the phone, my head started going nuts and I pictured how anxious I was going to be every time I had to get up and speak. I could feel my heart beat faster just thinking about it. I was being irrational, of course, but that is the point. Most fear is irrational.
My public speaking up to that point had been presentations in class or in front of work groups or small audiences. I had benefitted from being around a lot of brilliant public speakers, who always seemed calm, cool, collected and interesting when speaking to large groups. I decided I would not let this fear keep me from a wonderful, much larger learning opportunity so I called Brian back and accepted the nomination of Commercial President.
Over the next year, while I was President-elect, I watched Brian and the other leaders who spoke so well. I prepared presentations I would have to give well in advance and gave them lots of thought, rehearsing what I would talk about during my morning runs. Teresa King Kinney, the CEO of MIAMI Realtors and a leader maker, also assisted by making every President and President-elect give impromptu speeches, often. After the first time, when I was caught off guard, I learned quickly that I always had to be prepared to speak in public and I am no longer afraid. Preparation is key to addressing so many fears, right?