Before I’d even embraced the centre stage to take my position as CEO and founder of BEYOUROWN & Critics Clothing to give a brief introduction as to who I am, what I do and why I was even there, I felt it. Yes, I had a date with ‘anxiety’ again. The sweat of my palms and hard to swallow chronic dry mouth were soon fluidly frequented by a nervous cough, you know the type that sounds lightly fake? Never the less, true to my word, I continued since the show must go on!
I had struggled with the fear of public speaking for many years, crazy right? Uncommon? No, but I was determined not to let my fear get the better of me again. Violet Simon, wasn’t the first event that I have ever engaged in as a guest panel speaker, in fact, I have had the privilege of appearing on many stages, from DMWF to Pure Live exhibition in Kensington Olympia. However up until this event, for some reason, this panic-driven notion never seemed to disappear and I often left backstage with a nostalgic feeling upon being invited to return as a guest speaker again in forthcoming events- to which I’d politely decline.
I had previously spent so long trying to avoid doing as many public speaking events as I could regardless of knowing how much it could accelerate my brand marketing and potentially further my career. Like many and possibly just like you, I’d research countless articles, audiobooks, take sleeping pills and I had previously contemplated hypnotherapy in aid to save my soul. I’ve since figured the problem has never been that I didn’t know what I was talking about, it was more so that I did and granted to this day, I am still super conscious about representing both of my businesses in the best possible light whilst covering the subject area of discussion on stage. The thought of me fluffing my words or clamming up with the bright light beaming down on me once made me feel so physically sick that I tipped back 3 shots of tequila prior to taking to the stage at one event. (No, I won’t divulge which one!)
You see, the fear of public speaking is such a terrible feeling to endure and for many people who are incredibly lucky enough not to have ever had to experience it, have no idea of what it actually feels like and so it is difficult for them to understand and sympathise. Many of whom I had expressed this to often think its something you can ‘just snap out of,’ whilst a few others still couldn’t grasp the concept of the commotion.
Since this particular event being titled ‘FEARLESS,’ aimed to collectively embrace women from all different backgrounds who are passionate about creating an authentic space to feel vulnerable in, I really wanted to embody that. After all, how could I endorse and reinforce the BEYOUROWN mission at this event with the aim to make women feel like they could truly be at ease with themselves, flaws and all, if I wasn’t? And since I’d considered myself so painstakingly bad at public speaking, why not show this flaw of mine?
Proudly joined on stage with food and media entrepreneur @vanessabolosier, poet, writer, and founder of @lookingforheroes @alexpawlowska and moderated by body confidence coach and speaker @danasuchow, we each aimed to explore in depth the power of vulnerability and storytelling through our own unique journeys.
Finishing off, I was asked “how I’d intend to show my vulnerability through being fearless” by Dana Suchow, I couldn’t help my lukewarm response that re-iterated how I was utterly at my most vulnerable state whilst on stage public speaking in front of so many. I concluded that I am neither afraid or ashamed to let the audience join me on my quest to once and for all conquer my fear and that I truly do intend to get better at it through practice.
With the support of the amazing audience, to which I can only feel grateful for, I successfully managed to get through that event without fainting and I now believe I can go on to conquer many more public speaking engagements. I went with the aim to help empower women to thrive in their careers, flourish in their diversity and to continue achieving excellence within their field, and despite the shaky start, I believe that I delivered the task in hand. Though I still slightly loathe the idea of public speaking at an event, I really enjoyed the challenge of letting the audience see me completely unfiltered thus giving my rawest authentic self, so I thoroughly welcome the next one. (Which I am proud to say is in March 2019)
If you are still struggling with the fear of public speaking, I truly hope you learn to overcome it, it won’t happen overnight but I have included 3 pointers to help you out in the meantime.
- Practice makes….perfect. Or as close as you can get to perfection. Whether you stand in front of the mirror with a hairbrush makeshift microphone in hand or grab a couple of your closest friends to sit through your presentation, I highly recommend it.
- Arrive early to meet and greet the guests and as many other guest speakers as you can. This will give you chance to get a feel for the audience and also get to know the other speaker’s backgrounds.
- Master your smile as whilst smiling shows enthusiasm and confidence, it can also be a great way to hide your nerves if you find yourself lost for words.