How I Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking

One of my goals for 2018 was to start speaking at events (i.e. User groups, SQL Saturdays).

A handful of people (including attendees) have asked how I picked the locations to speak at (i.e. OC, Albuquerque, Dallas and Pensacola). Below is the logic (or lack there of) that went into picking the locations:

How I Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking

As I sit in my hotel room after giving my 4th (and most likely last SQL Saturday event for 2018), I was wondering how I overcome my fear of public speaking?

According to a 2014 Washington Post article, over 25% of people fear public speaking.

That’s absolutely understandable. The first time I spoke (at SQL Saturday Orange County) I was nervous as hell. I barely slept the night before. I remember waking up every half hour thinking I was going to be late.

Looking back, there were a few things I did to help me calm my nerves…

Two Ways That Helped Me

1stPassion. Pick something you are extremely passionate about. This will make it extremely easier and you will feel more comfortable talking about it. If you aren’t passionate about the topic, then you are sure as hell not going to feel comfortable speaking about it in front of total strangers.

Being passionate about the topic also assumes you will know the topic “inside out.” You don’t have to be an expert at it, but the passion will motivate you to dive deep into the material. This will allow a deeper understanding of the topic which in turn will increase your confidence.

2nd – Anger. Get angry! I’m not talking about flipping over tables and going nuts. I’m talking about internal anger (think of a mini-Hulk) that allows you to “flip the tables of fear.”

Don’t get angry at nothing, or no one else, other than your own fear. Treat fear as someone whispering in your ear and you want to tell it to “shut up!”

The point is to treat fear not as “you being scared” but “someone trying to scare you.”

Sustain Growth by Giving Back

I remember the first time I spoke in public. After it was all done, I was already thinking of giving back. I recently joined Speaking Mentors as a mentor. I’m absolutely honored to be among some of the best in the business.

Giving back has helped me become comfortable with the idea of being a speaker. There is something innate in helping others that is truly humbling.

I overcame my fear of public speaking by speaking about something I’m passionate about and getting angry at fear. If you’re thinking of speaking publicly for the first time, I hope this blog helps you out.

Good luck!

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