You would think since I am a public speaker AND a podcaster, speaking in public would not be a fear of mine. But it is!

I speak all the time with people one to one, in small to large groups, but speaking on stage can be tough.

I recently traveled by plane from Northern California to Grand Rapids Michigan. I had signed up a few years ago to attend a 4-day Speaker Intensive. I knew we would be learning about speaking on stage, writing our speech, and speaking on a large stage to an audience while being videotaped. 

My fears were exacerbated by the amount of travel, being in a new city where I did not know anyone AND speaking on stage. I arrived a day early to be able to get used to the time change and get settled before the speaker conference started. On that day before the conference, I noticed my fear increasing leading to me not wanting to get out of bed. I thought over and over about speaking on stage and wondered why I spent good money to travel, stay in a hotel and attend the speaker conference. I noticed my anxiety was moving up from 1 to 2 to 3 building up to getting closer to a 10. I knew I either had to get out of this mindset or I would sabotage my ability to function at the speaker conference.

I am a psychotherapist by training, and I have seen and helped many people with their fears, anxiety, and panic. I was able to notice the fear and anxiety were turning into panic before I got anywhere near being on stage. I knew that I need to lower my panic before it got too high. I was really committed to the process of being on stage and getting that speaking video done.

I used some tried and true techniques that always work for me and my clients: 

  • Notice and name the fear. 

I realized that my fear was not about speaking on stage, it was about being judged. I knew we were going to be videotaped and that meant the judgement could be eternal (me included).

I was also afraid since I was going out of my comfort zone. I was in a new city/state, with people I did not know and having to write and speak on stage. 

  • Decide to move through the fear.

I decided that I signed up for and paid for this trip and this conference and I was going to take full advantage of it. I had put on my bucket list I wanted to attend a live conference where I learned all of the ins and out of speaking on stage. 

  • It was ok to say I did not want to stay. 

I gave myself an out, I could leave, if I wanted to. But I would have to leave that first day before the conference started. I was either going to be all in or all out. 

  • After moving through the fear, I needed to be all in.

Giving myself the out to leave, helped take the pressure off and I could commit to stay and be all in.

  • Get up and move around.

As I laid in bed that first day, I noticed my head chattering with lots of negativity. I knew if I did not get up and move around, I would keep focused on the negativity. 

  • Center myself as often as possible: pray and meditate.

I came back to my breath often. I came back inside of my body. When I focus in my body and on my breath, I calm down. 

  • Eat good nourishing food.

After I got up out of bed, I went out and walked to Trader Joes and got my food for the week. I knew we would be in the conference 9am to 9pm and I wanted to have food that I usually eat, so I would feel my best. 

  • Drink lots of water.

I like coffee and noticed mid-morning my anxiety would increase and I saw that I needed to add more water to not focus on caffeine. 

  • Notice the thoughts and reframe them.

It is critical to notice what you are thinking. I had so many negative thoughts running through my head, which increased my anxiety and sense of panic. I noticed the thought and asked myself, “Is this true?” It never was true. The more I allow the negative thoughts in my head to bulldoze forward, the less effective I am in my life. 

  • Sleep and rest. 

I was at a 4-day conference from 9-9 in a new city, a new bed, with new people. I knew it was critical to get the rest and sleep I needed to be really on my A game. It worked. 

In the end, after the video was shot, I felt victorious. I congratulated myself for a job well done. I feel grateful to have tools to help me move through difficult and challenging experiences.  

You might not be planning to speak on stage, but consider what is your metaphorical big stage that you feel afraid to go out on? Try out these techniques to see what works for you. I don’t want to let fear stop me from doing something important. I know that when I have an inner desire to do something, I need to listen. If the fear comes up, I need to address that fear. 

Want to watch my talk? Click here to see it.

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Counselor, Speaker, Podcaster, and Inspirational Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration

You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms. 

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