Fear of public speaking is something that comes up all the time in my executive speech coaching sessions with clients. I know it can seem overwhelming when you’re standing at the podium looking out at hundreds or thousands of pairs of eyes (and even some media and cameras) staring back at you. What if you forget what to say? What if you bore them to death? What if your projector fails? What if you get a difficult or controversial question during the Q&A? There are so many things that run through my mind when I step up to the stage. I believe that to overcome fear you need to fundamentally shift your mindset and let the fear go. Like changing gears in the car when you’re driving.
Now something that might surprise you, this blog post was actually inspired by Disney’s 2013 movie ‘Frozen’ (which I have seen 100’s of times because my little one LOVES it!). In it the character Queen Elsa sings a song called ‘Let It Go’ performed by Idina Menzel – it’s the signature song of the movie (written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song). The words are surprisingly powerful for a child’s animated movie and the other day while I was listening to it, I realized the parallels between some of the lyrics and the mindset shifts I ask my clients make. So I thought I’d share them with you (actually lyrics in bold):
SHIFT #1: “I don’t care what they’re going to say” ~ Fear often stems from worrying about what other people think of us and that we might embarrass ourselves or look like a fool. When you stop worry about what other people think of you it sets you free. Leadership is not a popularity contest, people don’t have to like you, they have to respect you.
SHIFT #2: “It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small” ~ Perspective is a powerful weapon in the fight against fear. When you step back and look at the BIG picture, you realize how insignificant your fear is. Fear is selfish, especially as a leader. Leadership is a service to others, it shouldn’t be all about you.
SHIFT #3: “It’s time to see what I can do to test the limits and break through” ~ When you break through your fear…YES I mean through, not over, not under, not around but through! To build courage you must go through fear and test the limits of what you are capable of. Leaders should constantly test the limits of what they are capable of and inspire others to do the same! Are you a leader that wants to inspire others when you speak? Then let’s talk!
To become the person you were born to be, you must summon the courage to go through your fear and let it go. Gain some perspective and stop worrying about what everyone thinks. It’s not just about helping you overcome your fear of public speaking, the stakes are much higher than that, it’s about becoming a world-class leader.
Called ‘The Secret Weapon’ by one journalist, Narges Nirumvala is a world renowned leadership communication expert and international speaker. She is the CEO of ExecutiveSpeak Coaching International and author of the bestselling book “Capture the Spotlight”. Narges works with executives and leadership teams to help them find their authentic voice and speak the language of leadership. Narges has received numerous accolades; most recently she was nominated for the 2016 Wendy McDonald Awards as Community Catalyst.