Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fear of Public Speaking

When I was a boy, all the way up through my mid-twenties or so, I was deathly afraid of having to stand up before a group of people and speak.  I remember one time---I was about 13 or thereabouts---when I was asked to lead our Boy Scout meeting in the Pledge of Allegiance.  I absolutely could not do it.  I had a panic attack.

Part of my problem at the time was that I had very low self esteem and had no confidence in much of anything I was doing.  Looking back, I can say that this affliction was one of the worst things I ever went through in my life.  It wasn't until much later in life that my confidence began to improve with a success here and there---but I still dreaded it when I would have to speak before a group.
One of the most terrifying thoughts always occurred when I would be a part of a church group.  What if I was asked to say a prayer?  Oh, my gosh---I couldn't refuse to say a prayer!  I would have to actually say a meaningful prayer!  How would I go about doing that without having a heart attack?  By and by, the day came when this did happen.  I did my best to fight through my fear and mumbled something unintelligible and said a loud "Amen" at the end of it and got out of there before anyone could comment on how bad a prayer it was.  Ha.
As time went on, and my age progressed, and my life experience built some successes in business, personal relationships, social situations, etc, I began to feel at ease in speaking before groups.  In fact I began to enjoy it.  Soon, I was actually asking for opportunities to speak in public---teaching Sunday school, singing before groups of people, leading classes in various subjects.  Soon, being a speaker or singer in front of others was FUN!  I had come full circle!  Now, my friends and family often tell me they can't shut me up!  I take that as a compliment.  I don't EVER want to go back to those years when fear held its power over my life.

I thought this might be a meaningful blog posting because there are so many people who suffer this same fear of public speaking that I once did.  It can be overcome very spectacularly by making yourself DO IT!  With practice, fear will dissipate and the joy of being a speaker will take its place.
Before I close today's post, let me offer a little suggestion for those who might be fearful of being asked to say a prayer for a group.  Simply remember the ACRONYM    "ACTS".

A---Adoration....Begin your prayer by expressing adoration to God for His grace
C---Confession....Confess to God the group's humanity and imperfection
T---Thanksgiving....Thank God for all that He has given to the individuals of the group
S---Supplication....Ask God for whatever you or the group needs


  1. Very good Post! I was on a debate team in High School and did some public speaking in College. And your right, It Ain't Easy. But it does build character when you finally are able to open your mouth in front of total strangers.
    And that German Shepard picture is hysterical. What a risk that was. I wonder what happened after the picture was taken.

  2. You have a fantastic voice and are an excellent teacher and speaker! The world is a better place since you overcame your fear of public speaking.

  3. cute post! i was the same way - my face would turn the brightest red, which would make it worse. i had to get over my fears when i became a teacher, though i still get anxious when i have to speak in front of large numbers (which isn't often, thank goodness!=)

  4. Jane---yeah, I think those German Shepherds are VERY WELL trained. (and I still can't get over the fact you showed the world your husband's worn out long-johns on your blog! You rock, girl!)

    Kelli---I know this is a universal issue. I think one of the most important courses a child can take is public speaking. It builds confidence and self-esteem and it is a necessary talent in business and social situations.

  5. Even as a boy I had a crazy fear of public speaking, then growing up and working is all over!



  6. Yes Clint, Cats and Dogs - this pic is the best.
    Greetings Sabine

  7. I am a great reader of self help books and many touched the subject of speaking in public.
    Much of what you wrote I have read over the years, I at one time lost confidence in myself owing to losing my mum and three days later was told my husband had terminal brain cancer and he too was gone within two months, I was on my own as the kids had all flown the nest , the first time in my entire life I was alone.
    There was a time when people walked all over me but these books helped me regain what confidence I'd lost. Now I can hold my own, I don't suffer fools gladly and most of all I am NOT afraid.

    I enjoyed your post and am pleased you overcame your fear.


  8. Dude you're right on, it's definitely a practiced skill. And you can fall out of practice too... I think I probably am right now because it has been a couple of years since I've done any real public speaking.

  9. Clint,
    I was telling my son about my experience in this just a couple of days ago. When I was a child I was so shy, the schools put me in a speech class, which I failed. Every time it was my turn to speak, I refused. I was less afraid of bad marks than I was of speaking out.
    My speech teacher was smart. He observed that my faith was important to me. One day he said it is your turn, I shrank in my chair. He said I want you to speak on the role that the Church has played in your life, and remember if you deny Jesus before man, he will deny you before the Father. I had to go forward!
    I can't say I am anymore comfortable in public speaking than I was then, and I do not enjoy it. But at least I can get up and speak.

  10. Franz---We all have our demons, my friend! Ciao to you!

    Sabine---You are so right---unbelievable!

  11. Yvonne---You impress me as being very confident. But I think most of us are forced to overcome our fears and weaknesses...seems to me you have done just that!

    Greg---I know you are right about falling out of practice. You can get good at something and then not use that skill for awhile, all the time thinking you can just go right back to being good anytime you wish and BOOM!---you bomb when you try it. I've seen me do it! :)

  12. You sound like me as a youngster. You are fortunate to have had someone in your life who could "read" you and help you overcome. Blessings.

  13. Overcoming fear is the greatest strength.

    Thanks for sharing

    sunny greetings

  14. Great post, dear Clint.
    I think that we all had this fear of speaking
    in public..
    Now you are the best speaker in friendly

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
    Greetings from Athens,

  15. I find if it's something I KNOW I KNOW what I am talking can't shut me up.

    It's when I'm not 100% certain what I'm saying is spot on (while in a room of other people that do) when I tend to get a little nervous.

    That's why it's SO IMPORTANT to always be over prepared!

  16. I haven't seen such a collection of cartoons about the fear of speaking in public. Thanks for posting them since even more than words they illustrate the fear and trembling that people suffer every day. As a psychologist I work with people who want to tap into the voice that is authentic. You can't cover over. I think you have to go through a process, step toward the fear, and find the kind of support group that celebrates your unique being.

  17. I went to acting school and did some theatre and singing... but still have anxiety with public speaking! I worked in radio and that was a blast-- I could talk and talk and talk, and no one could see me!

  18. i once had to do a talk on bunny rabbits. it was a real blast

  19. i just still think about how much of a blast it was

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  22. Great post about how to overcome fear of public speaking is very good helpful and useful for me .So Keep up the wonderful work.