Do you struggle with a fear of public speaking? Is the thought of speaking in front of a group of people causing you worry or sleepless nights?  Are you avoiding or dreading getting up in front of a group of people? How is this fear holding you back from achieving greater personal and professional success?

Many people have a fear of public speaking and most people are unaware that I had a huge fear of public speaking too.  They find it difficult to believe because they see and hear me speak at regular events, conferences, trainings and seminars; as well as being interviewed in the media.  Clients, colleagues and friends say that I am confident and engaging when I speak.  Yet, it was not always this way.  When I tell them about the huge fear I had around public speaking they are very surprised.

I remember the presentation I gave many years ago now.  There I was behind the podium giving my speech to about a dozen senior managers at the financial institution where I worked.  Well into my speech, all was flowing nicely – I was comfortable, I remembered my speech and only occasionally glanced down at my notes.  I was on a roll!

Then the unexpected happened.  Half way through my speech, I burst into tears and fear overcame me.  I had no idea what was happening or why – I was caught by surprise.

Searching for a Solution

Determined to conquer this fear, I attended public speaking course after course.  I attended so many of them I lost count.  Attending so many public speaking skills courses did help with my skills around structuring my presentations and practising my delivery, yet none really helped me to address the fear.

I still stood at podiums frozen with fear, stood in front of audiences shaking like a leaf, I still felt sick at the thought of speaking, I still dreaded speaking, I still avoided presentations – I still had the fear.  I needed to take a different approach – this was a deep seated irrational fear and I needed to address it at its core.

From Fear to Confidence

Through my studies and research, I discovered that all irrational fears reside in our subconscious mind and are based on our past experiences and past conditioning.  Often events that have happened early on in our life can stay with us as irrational fears later in life. This is because we can interpret those events in negative ways and often, we can “make a mountain out of a molehill” and exaggerate these in our mind.  These fears remain with us subconsciously until we address them fully.

Here are the three steps I used and have used successfully with my clients to help them with their fears of public speaking:

1. Any change begins with your willingness and readiness to change. Once you have decided to overcome your fears, next think about how you will benefit from making those changes or improvements. How will overcoming this fear help you in your personal and professional life? What opportunities will open up to you once this fear is gone?

2. Identify the specific fears and related beliefs that are sabotaging your ability to speak in public. Notice your self-talk as you think about doing a presentation – are these negative or positive? What specifically are you telling yourself and how are you feeling – anxiety, dread, fear, etc.? All of these will start to point to the specific fears and beliefs you need to address on a deep subconscious level.

3. Once you have identified these, let go of them by working with the subconscious mind, as this is where they were all created and where they are stored. Importantly, you need to address both the obvious and the deeply hidden ones in order for you to be permanently free from those fears.

Imagine looking forward to your next presentation and confidently and successfully speaking in public.