Is the fear of speaking holding your business back?

Most business owners are great at what they do. Many, though, break into a cold sweat at the thought of speaking publicly about their business, and this can hinder business growth.

Some business owners fear the phone and those “dreaded” sales calls. Others feel awkward in meetings or groups. Others fear having those tough conversations with staff.

The fear of speaking can range from panic attacks to shaking knees and voice, accelerated heart rate to avoiding meetings or social events. The fear is real and when it surfaces it can be both personally and professionally crippling.

Living with the fear of speaking led me down a path of low self-esteem and missed opportunities. At the height of my fear, I struggled to speak in front of two or more people. Having faced my own fear, I now confidently speak in front of groups of any size and coach others to speak with confidence.

The good news is that you can overcome your fear and go from petrified to performing, and watch your business benefit as a result.

My advice for overcoming your fear of speaking? Find a purpose that is greater than your fear.

Before starting my own business, I worked for an organisation and wanted a promotion. To be considered for the promotion, I had to speak in front of a two-person interview panel. Year, after year I watched others win the promotions and leave me behind simply because I was too scared to face the panel.

The pain of watching others win the promotions was enough to push me out of my comfort zone and overcome my fear. The result? I got that promotion!

What opportunities is your business missing because of your fear of speaking? And what impact is this having on your professional and personal life?

Speaking is critical for everyone in business. Whether it be speaking with our clients or potential clients, staff or stakeholders. You want to connect and be understood. If you want to succeed in business, avoiding speaking simply is not an option.

Imagine your life without the fear of speaking. What opportunities will open for you and your business? What will you achieve?

Make the decision to face your fear, look deep into the fear and breakdown what is behind it.

Is it the fear of the unknown? Is it not knowing what to say or how to say it, or saying the wrong thing?

Is it the fear of looking silly or making a fool of yourself? Is it the fear of what people will think of you?

I had all these thoughts and they fed my fear of public speaking.

Reframing my negative thoughts allowed me to dissolve my fear.

So what’s behind your fear? Take time to reflect on what lies behind it.

It can help to look back to a time when you felt the fear rise at the thought of having to speak. What were you feeling, thinking? What happened before, during and afterwards?

A book by Susan Jeffers, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, provides valuable tools to create a mind-shift around your fear.

I have also found visualisation a powerful tool in overcoming my fear. I believe that if you can see it, you can do it. I did this with the job interview and won the promotion. I have used visualisation to reduce my anxiety when I have speaking engagements. Visualisation is like a dress rehearsal in your mind. Picture yourself speaking from start to finish. See yourself speaking with confidence.

Overcoming your fear can help your business soar!

Kaylene Ledgar, Communication Coach and author of “Speaking, It’s NOT Worse Than Death”

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