How to Get Over Yourself and Conquer Fear

"Uncle Jed, I decided I ain't gonna be a brain surgeon." ~ Jethro Bodine

“Uncle Jed, I decided I ain’t gonna be a brain surgeon.” ~ Jethro Bodine

“Don’t be Jethro. To cure nervousness, flip the mirror around and focus on how the audience feels about itself.” ~ Bill Hoogterp

I copied the following one way mirror story from the book “Your Perfect Presentation” by public-speaking coach Bill Hoogterp and I read it everytime I’m about to share content with my audience either on my website, in a meeting, when giving a presentation, or through any other means of communication;

Setup;   Andrea gets flustered before giving presentations because she feels like she is being judged.  The public speaking coach explains that yes, you are being judged, but who cares? Wanting people to see us in a positive light is normal but worrying too much about what they think of you gets in the way of communicating effectively with your audience.

 one way mirror

Before learning how to overcome my fear of public speaking by getting over myself and focusing on my audience, I relied on techniques like taking a deep breath, and looking for a friendly face, and thinking of something funny, or imagining evryone in the audience in their underwear.  These things seldom worked. What did work was when I came to the table fully prepared and after a few minutes I would naturally get over myself and just deliver my content..  This happens because you usually start a presentation thinking about how afraid you are that you’re going to mess up (you’re worried about how your audience will perceive you). If you’ve come to the table prepared and you love your content and your audience the strength of those emotions will drive the fear away. Anger and laughter will also overcome fear.

“So the cure for nervousness is to think of something that makes you feel great love or passion. Or something that gets your blood boiling. Or something that makes you laugh (but for goodness’ sake pick something better than the underwear). Those thoughts and images will drive out the fear.” ~ Bill Hoogterp

Another pitfall of focusing on yourself instead of your audience is illustrated by David Maister, author of The Trusted Advisor.

“According to Maister, we come to trust experts based on the sum of three factors—how competent they are in their particular field; how credible they are (do they know what they are talking about?); and how much they care about us—divided by a fourth: how much they focus on themselves.” ~ Bill Hoogterp

I was taking my car to the same high tech state of the art auto repair shop for several years because the service manager showed me that he knew what he was doing, was able to explain everything well, and seemed to have my best interests at heart. They went under new management and although they seemed competent they didn’t seem to have my best interests at heart. I decided to try the less flashy place across the street and they treated me so well that I decided to switch (forever).

I know a guy who is very smart and very good at what he does but every single story he tells is about him or it comes back to him. He has very few true friends.

What do you say to people like this whose only agenda in life is to do only what is in their own best interests?

Three simple words;

get over yourselfIf you exude confidence and yet you focus on too much on yourself it has the same effect as fear in that you create a filter between you and your audience. If you are focusing too much of your energy on yourself you can not expect your content to reach your audience.  Flip the one way mirror around and allow your energy to go out to your audience. It’s OK to be confident and knowledgeable but it is not OK to convey the message to your audience that you don’t care.

“When you stop thinking that you are the focus of your presentation and shift your focus to the audience, not only will you overcome your nervousness, but you will be much more successful in connecting with your audience. The best method I have ever found for overcoming nervousness is also the core technique for effective public speaking: focus on the audience check out this site.” ~ Bill Hoogterp

I would love to hear from anyone who has overcome their fear of public speaking. Tell us how you did it in the comment section below.

And thanks for stopping by!

RC Bonay

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