I’d give anything to travel back in time and tell my eight-year-old self that I’d eventually build a business from doing the one thing I feared most — public speaking.
In third grade, opening my mouth and speaking my mind to a group of people was a recipe for public humiliation: voice habitually quavering, thoughts lost between my brain and my headgear, and shaking so intense that my classmates sparked a rumor that I suffered from Tourette’s syndrome.
Fortunately, between being thrust onto the speaking circuit as Miss Junior America and dedicating years to sexual assault prevention and young women’s empowerment — along with a lot of training and self-development work — I successfully let go of my nearly paralyzing fear of public speaking.
However, too many young entrepreneurs have had similar negative experiences early on, letting their memories and fears get in the way of strategically building their businesses.
Here’s how to shift your mindset and realize that as an emerging leader with a powerful message, public speaking is actually the easiest way to effectively reach an audience:
1. It’s not all about you. Remind yourself that public speaking is truly an opportunity to share an important message that your audience should hear. When viewing it as an act of service rather than of self-promotion, you keep your focus on those you’re speaking to and seeking to help.
2. Fear is 100 percent normal. It’s your body’s signal that you are alive, stretching outside your comfort zone and can make a great impact. Create a 30-second pre-speaking ritual that slows your breathing and strengthens positive mental messaging.
I take deep breaths and mentally recite, “I am strong, I am brave. I show up at 100 percent, I perform at 100 percent.” After a dozen times through these phrases, you’ll quiet the panic and magnify the peace. And most importantly, you can be truly present to connect with your audience.