The book of lists rates public speaking as what people fear the most. Death is listed as the fifth most feared.
I can easily believe that ranking. Although I now love public speaking and often get paid well to do it, I once struggled more with public speaking than nearly any other area of my business development. Realizing I had a lot of company in the fear I felt, didn’t help at all. I couldn’t imagine how I could possibly get up in front of a group of people, convince them that I had something valuable to say, and speak as though I enjoyed it.
The first time I got up to speak in front of a leads group, one of my worst fears came true. The trouble began when, instead of introducing myself as “Sharyn Abbott from Uniglobe Travel,” I blurted out, “I’m Sharyn Uniglobe from Abbott Travel.” Everyone laughed, and I was miserably embarrassed. Then I realized they weren’t laughing at me (though I wasn’t yet ready to appreciate that it really was funny), they were laughing because it was truly funny. Somehow I managed to get through my presentation and when I sat back down I continued feeling embarrassed over my mistake in my introduction. I can’t imagine that anyone else thought about it ever again, but I agonized over it for years.
It took about two years to decide that in order to build the kind of business success I wanted, I had to overcome the fear of speaking in front of other professionals. To do this, I knew I had to practice speaking in front of larger groups.