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How to Overcome Fear of Speaking, Podcasting, Live Streaming, Webinars and More

Posted By Darren Rowse 3rd of December 2015 Social Media, Writing Content 0 Comments

How to Overcome Fear of Speaking, Podcasting, Live Streaming, Webinars and MoreIs fear holding you back from engaging in mediums like Live streaming, Podcasting, webinars, talking-head videos or even speaking at live events?

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen amazing opportunities open up to bloggers who are willing to embrace some of these mediums – but alongside the opportunities, I’ve noticed a rising tide of anxiety among some bloggers who while comfortable to put themselves out there on the internet through the written word are reluctant to jump in front of a camera or microphone.

For some the reluctance comes from lack of experience or skills, but for many of us it is fear that holds us back.

Speaking in public is often cited as the #1 fear that people have and this extends to many of these mediums.

My Own Struggle with Fear of Speaking in Public

As a 16-year-old, I took a class in public speaking that taught me a lot of the skills needed to construct and deliver a good talk. I learned that I could do it and that I even enjoyed parts of the process – but nothing in that class taught me how to deal with fear.

So for the next 10 years, whenever I needed to speak in public (which was a regular occurrence as I worked for a decade as a youth worker and minister in a church) I would feel a growing sense of dread as the time to present approached.

Fear would gradually creep in and would usually raise its head in the form of questions like:

  • what if they don’t like me
  • what if I look stupid
  • what if I forget what I’m supposed to say
  • what if they think I don’t know what I’m talking about
  • what if I’m boring

I could go on… but I think you get the picture.

For a while there I tried to use this growing ‘fear’ as a motivating factor. It drove me to prepare extra well. I would spend days preparing even for a short talk so that:

  • they did like me
  • I didn’t I look stupid
  • I didn’t forget what I’m supposed to say
  • I did look like I knew what I was talking about
  • I wasn’t boring

It got to the point that when I had to give a talk I would become consumed by it for days and even weeks. I would practice it 10, 20, 30 times over and over again – trying to perfect it – all driven by not looking stupid.

My talks ended up being ‘good’…. but the fear didn’t go away. In fact, at times it got worse and when I started to get asked to speak at bigger events I would sometimes say no simply because it got too much.

Something needed to change.

How I Reframed It

One day as I worked myself into a frenzy of fear in the days before another talk it dawned on me that I was being incredibly selfish.

All the ‘what if’ statements that I dwelt on were all about me and how I looked.

All of that preparation that I did for each talk was also all about me and how I would be received.

While on some levels this motivated me to prepare it was actually a massive destruction from what my focus should have been on: my audience.

I decided to combat the selfish negative questions I’d been asking myself with questions that forced me to think about my audience.

Questions like:

  • Who will be in the audience as I speak
  • How will they be feeling?
  • What are their needs and struggles?
  • What are their dreams?
  • What is their pain?

Lastly I began to ask myself ‘how could this talk change their life for the better?’

A number of things immediately changed as I began to prepare for talks this way:

Firstly – the Fear started to Slip Away

I crowded out the negative self talk with talk that focused me in other directions.

Where I’d previously been focused upon myself and how I looked – I was now focused upon others.

Where I’d previously been focused upon ‘what if’ statements (things I couldn’t really control by the way), I had started focusing upon ‘what are’ and ‘what is’ statements.

Secondly – I prepared with different Intent

Previously I would spend many days on each talk preparing – but my preparation was all about looking polished, perfecting my delivery and finding the perfect words.

With the change of mindset I began to prepare with a whole different motivation. It became all about finding the best way to serve the audience.

I still put as much effort into the preparation process, but it became less about how it came across and more about how useful the information was, and how to craft it in a way to bring as many of the audience on the journey towards transformation as I could.

The preparation was less about getting a standing ovation or words of affirmation after the talk – and more about seeing people walk away ready to change their life in some way.

Thirdly – My Presentation came from a Different Place

As I began to think differently and then prepare differently I noticed that I also began to present differently.

As I let go of how I looked and focused more upon transformation in my audience I found myself speaking with more compassion and passion.

I would get up to speak not hoping to be polished and professional but hoping that what I had to say would change someone’s life.

Of course not every talk that I gave (or give) hits the mark – but I began to notice the way that my audiences responded to me changed. I got less ‘great talk’ comments and more ‘I felt like you were talking to me’ comments.

Audience members seemed to notice the shift.

Don’t Focus Upon What You’ll Get…. Focus on What You can Give

It’s so easy in the space we’re engaging in to focus upon the affirmation we’ll get from doing a Periscope or Youtube Video or Podcast or Blog post.

The ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘hearts’, smiley emoji’s and comments are all there staring in the face.

But as much as you possibly can – attempt to look past them to the fingertips behind the keystrokes and the human beings to whom those fingertips belong. Imagine their face and more so imagine who they are, what they feel, what they dream of, what they struggle with and who they are becoming.

Make that your starting place and I truely believer the content that you create will go to a whole new level.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Public speaking, definitely a fear of mine. I can remember as a kid in high school oh so long ago pretending to be sick if I had to do a presentation. I hated talking to the entire class.

    I still have that fear, but do a bit better with it. I love your idea of focusing on what you can provide the people you are presenting to. It really does bring everything into a new light.

    Thanks for the honesty, good to see someone else struggle with this!


  2. This is a very important post for improving skill.These are necessary part for removing fear of speaking at any where.I think confident is most valuable thing for removing fear.

  3. I adore this post, and concur on all your points. As a TV director and now full time blogger and vlogger, I know from being behind the camera, and now in front, that, that connection with your audience/ viewer and of course reader, is crucial. To always speak/ or write imagining and personalising your audience. I still write as if it is just my Mum reading my blog as it was at the start 5 years ago. Although I know the numbers whom read my blog now, I never imagine them as one mass of readers. Ever. People who meet me offline often say they feel they know me well, that I’m their friend. It’s a wonderful feeling, that others feel connected to me through my work. We are the ‘true’ characters in our own digital narratives, we need others to feel they are familiar with us, with our point of view, and take on the world-that’s why they read and watch us. Without that connection and emotional transaction, we can’t touch, entertain, inspire or make others think. Thank you for this reassuring and insightful post.

  4. Public speaking is good especially when one practices online before going in front of a live audience.

  5. Same as above mentioned by Chris, i also have fear. Gradualy my fear reduces. I appreciate your concept and appreciate to u for presenting this concept with everyone.


    Erin Savour

  6. Hi Darren,

    I love how you took things like transforming negative self-talk and re-framing — subjects I have found in the past to be full of a lot of psychological blabber — and turned them into something practical. I thought this was a great post. Thanks!


  7. Once again, another wonderful posts here Darren! I began to read some of your blog posts and what really fascinates me is your ability to connect with your audience not just on talks, but also through your writing, it feels though as if you knew the readers dilemma, struggles, and curiosity as if somehow you knew how to approach there problems, and i’m not saying that you don’t – yet the way you deliver it is easy to pass through our emotions. I begin to realize that there is more for me to learn when it comes to really reaching out to people and touching lives. Your truly an inspiration!

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with taking away the ‘I’ out of the equation. Although I haven’t made this connection with public speaking it does make perfect sense and I will try it in the future. Taking away I works well in lots of aspects of daily life.

  9. Wow, wished I had known you back in college! I felt like I was the only one who couldn’t give speeches in my public speaking class. Everyone else seemed to love it! I will never forget the humiliation I felt on my final speech which lasted about 3 1/2 minutes out of the minimum 30 minutes required. I read every word on the paper (which was supposed to only be notes on note cards) and held it purposely in front of my face so no one could see me. I went to my professor after class in tears and begged him to pass me since I would never be able to graduate without that class. He did and I finally graduated. I have come a long way but still have a long way to go.

    It’s my goal this year to start doing some sort of YouTube or webinar type things for my business. It’s definitely where others are heading and I want to be able to try to stay in the game. :o This post definitely helps me put things in a different perspective and I think I can do it!


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