Conquer your fear of public speaking

Human behaviourist Dr John Demartini explains the reasons why people are afraid of public speaking and gives tips on how to overcome these fears

The fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears people face. But if they understand what the actual fear is and break through it, they can make the greatest achievements.

What is this fear of public speaking that so many people are plagued with? The fear of public speaking has little to do with the fear of speaking. People speak to each other every day. It’s not even the fear of speaking in front of numbers of people. It boils down to the fear of speaking in front of people whom the speaker perceives have something they don’t, or at least more than they perceive themselves to have.

There are seven primary fears underlying the fear of public speaking. The first one is the fear of speaking before others who are perceived to have more intelligence, more specialised knowledge than they do. So, if you’re a high school student and you look out into the audience and you see a college professor who is an expert on the subject you’re talking about, you’ll have a higher probability of the fear of speaking. Because anytime you exaggerate somebody’s importance, you’ll subordinate or minimise your own.

The second fear is that of speaking before others who are perceived to be more successful, and have achieved more. So if you are speaking on business success in front of people who have multinational corporations and you’ve just started your business, you could possibly compare yourself and think you’re not as successful.

We are not here to live in the shadows of anyone; we are here to stand on the shoulders of giants

The third fear is the fear of speaking before people who have more wealth than you. If you’re talking about how to get wealthy, you’ll probably feel intimidated and minimised compared to those people.

The next fear is that of speaking in front of somebody who has a more stable or impressive family dynamic. So if you were speaking on family or relationship issues in front of somebody who has a stable 40-year marriage while you have had three divorces, you’d probably be intimidated because you’re comparing yourself to them.

The fifth fear is the fear of speaking before people whom you perceive to be more powerful, more influential and more respected and you compare yourself to them, subordinate to them and feel intimidated by them.

The sixth fear is the fear of speaking on the topic of health or beauty in front of people that are healthier or more beautiful than you, or who have more knowledge or more skill in this field. I remember there was a lady who was a little overweight who was talking about how to love yourself and a really gorgeous woman walked in. The moment she walked in, you could see the speaker do a comparison, and she was completely thrown off.

Number seven is the fear of speaking in front of people whom you think have more spiritual awareness, higher moral standards, or are higher up in the ranks of spirituality.

The second you perceive or think that others have more than you in any of these areas, you will tend to withdraw for fear of what they think of you. You won’t have the fear of speaking to somebody if you have more influence or more power than them.

The underlying fear of public speaking is due to subordination to those you perceive and feel have something you don’t, minimising yourself to them and exaggerating themselves to you. If you can put all these combinations together when you look at an audience, and you’re thinking that everybody out there is more intelligent, more successful, wealthier, more stable in relationships, more influential, healthier and more spiritually moral, the fear of public speaking will probably overwhelm you.

We are not here to live in the shadows of anyone; we are here to stand on the shoulders of giants. To overcome these fears, it’s wise to ask ourselves where and when do we demonstrate these same admired traits in some form within ourselves to the same degree. The moment we can identify these same traits, and own the traits of these greats as equals, our fears will subside.

There is nothing missing in you; you have all the traits you will see in others. You just have not recognised them or acknowledged them within yourself. So discover how nothing’s missing in you and you’ll feel more fulfilled, you’ll recognise your mission and those with a mission have a message.

Let out your message and allow your inherent leader to emerge – allow yourself to make a difference.