[Quotation about public speaking] The first sign of greatness

“The first sign of greatness is when a man does not attempt to look and act great. Before you can call yourself a man at all, Kipling assures us, you must “not look too good nor talk too wise.” 
― Dale Carnegie, 
The Art of Public Speaking

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[Quick public speaking tip] Is your past undermining your speaking confidence?

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Overcoming a fear of public speaking has many facets.

One of those facets is taking the fear apart and looking to see where it came from – looking into the past for clues.

Previous personal experience can affect our confidence in any situation.

Teasing of any sort can destroy confidence and if it was associated with public speaking then any chance of future confidence in public speaking will be shattered.

Thoughtlessly expressed feedback presented as criticism can do the same. A teacher, peer or parent can destroy confidence with unthinking negative comments.

If you find clues like that, then you are well on the way to overcoming it.

Finding a source in the past takes away the magic of the fear. You can apply logic to it.

Was the teasing justified? What was the motive for it? If it was justified and the motive was to bring you up to a standard, then you can work on changing the behaviour in your speaking that prompted it. If it wasn’t then you can dismiss it.

No, I didn’t say that was easy, but it can be done.

Giving feedback on a performance or activity is a valuable tool – but only if it is done with balance, sensitivity and appropriate motive. If it isn’t then it can be damaging and destructive.

Again, logic comes into play. Did the criticism in your past have a base in fact. Then address that fact.

Was it one-sided? Then find a way to get feedback on what your strong points might have been to provide balance and a sense of hope.

No, I didn’t say that was easy, but it can be done.

Even harder to address is the mindset that you may have adopted as a result.

One of the greatest sources of fears is of being judged.

That was mine.

I had a fault pointed out to me at the age of 7 … at school. Every piece of public speaking I did after that was at school – either to be marked out of 10 or graded or to win or lose a debate, or both. Judgement. Always. And for a normally high achiever at school that was a fearsome challenge.

I did well, and achieved, but always with fear.

Then I joined a speaking organisation whose programs were aimed at preparing speakers for speaking competitions. Judgement. Again – success but always with fear.

It wasn’t until I started speaking and running workshops at conferences and speaking to groups outside those confines that I felt I could escape the judgement and just be myself, communicating with an audience, and presenting them with something of use.

To me, the best cure for the fear is to believe that I have something of value and to focus on how that can help – to focus on expansive generosity rather than on a creation that is put up for judgement.

If you have a past experience that makes you fearful of public speaking, I would love to read about it in the comments, and even more so if you have fund a “cure” for it.