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I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

The Litany Against Fear, in Dune by Frank Herbert

I’ve done a lot of public speaking this year.

You join a moot team, that’s part and parcel of the job.

You argue your case before judges. You make mistakes. You vow never to make them again. You argue your case before more judges. You get better. You do it again.

As a result I kicked the fear of public speaking. I still get butterflies in my stomach. There’s still that fear that gnaws away at the insides when I confront an audience for the first time.

It’s a moment I know will come. A moment I plan for. I script the opening. I ritualise the first few minutes, so that they go smoothly and my brain comes online.

My focus narrows and I start concentrating ferociously on the topic. Once that happens, I’m in the zone. In the zone, I’m doing everything the best I can.

And failure? I stop worrying about failure. That’s the power of the zone.

That’s given me 2 vital lesson about the way I experience fear. Not just the fear of public speaking, all fear.

I experience fear as the terror of beginnings. Its about stepping outside my comfort zone. About taking steps onto a surface where I’m not perfectly sure.

Secondly that reality is never as bad as you imagine it to be. I build great visions of failure in my mind. Colossal Failure. Failure so humiliating that you’d never recover.

And it never happens.

Not ever.

I’ve taken these two lessons and applied them to all my fears.

I confront that first moment of panic head on by planning around it.

I imagine what is actually going to happen. Not what I fear will happen if the sky should fall and asteroids rain from the sky, but what will happen.

This is something pedestrian, a normal banal social event, a reasonably difficult exam or a yes/no response from the person I’ve asked for help from.

I plan the first few moments. I anticipate the first few difficulties I’ll encounter.

Then I ignore all the fear and do what I’m scared of doing anyway.

Because the secret is that you don’t lose fear by thinking about it.

You have to do what you want to do without caring about it. Once fear is  revealed as a hollow spectre by experience, that’s when you can defeat it.

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One Comment

  1. hi there,

    I just thought of dropping these lines to add something to the helpful mentioned ideas.every public speaker has to bear in mind that
    as a humain being,no one on the face of the earth can proclaim that he or she doesn’t feel afraid of standing in front of a crowd.my point here is that feeling a fraid in such setuation is something purely natural,so we cannot triumph over it,the only alternative that is left for us is to learn how to speak in public while we are afraid.


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