Dr John Demartini explains why so many people are afraid of public speaking and advises how to overcome this.
The fear of public speaking is one of the greatest fears the majority of people ever face. But if you understand the actual reason for your fear and are able to work through this, you will be able to stand up and present a meaningful message and go on to pursue many more social achievements.
So what exactly is this fear of public speaking? It actually has little to do with the fear of speaking; people speak fluently to each other every day. It’s not even the fear of speaking in front of a great number of people, because many of us have achieved this in our careers, or when we were at school. The fear of public speaking is actually the fear of speaking in front of someone who we believe or assume has something we don’t, or who has more than we have. Actually, there are seven primary fears that could be associated with the fear of public speaking.
The first fear is the fear of speaking before those we perceive to have more intelligence, more specialised knowledge, perhaps more education than we have. So, if you are a high school student and you look out into the audience and see a prestigious college professor who is an expert on the subject you’re about to talk about, you could have a fear of speaking.
The second fear is the fear of speaking in front of those who you perceive to be more successful in business, those who have achieved more, and comparing yourself to them and minimising yourself and exaggerating them. Perhaps you are speaking on business success in front of people who have multinational corporations whilst you’ve just started your little business.
The third fear is the fear of speaking before those who you perceive to be more financially savvy, or wealthier than you. If you’re talking about how to become wealthy and financially independent, you’ll probably feel intimidated compared to those who have already achieved financial success.
The fourth fear is the fear of speaking before those who you perceive to be more stable or impressive in their family dynamic. So if you were speaking on family or relationship issues in front of somebody who has had a good 40-year marriage while you have just got married or already have three divorces, you will probably be intimidated.
The fifth fear is the fear of speaking before someone who is more socially powerful, more influential and more respected than you. It’s more common to listen quietly to those you look up to and speak boldly before those who look up to you.
The sixth fear is the fear of speaking before people you perceive to be healthier and more beautiful than you, or who have more knowledge or skill in those particular fields, particularly when you are talking on the topics of health and beauty.
The seventh fear is the fear of speaking before someone who you perceive to be more spiritually aware. In this situation, you will withdraw from revealing your inspiring message.
The moment you perceive or think that others have more than you in any of these seven areas of life, you will tend to withdraw and become less empowered for fear of what they might think of you. Whenever you assume that other’s opinions of you are more important than your own opinion, you will tend to draw back into your shell. But you won’t have the fear of speaking out when you perceive yourself to be more influential or powerful than those you are talking to.
The underlying reasons or fears of public speaking all boil down to subordinating to those you perceive and feel have something you don’t. So when you minimise yourself to them or exaggerate them, your ability to speak fluently and confidently speak will diminish. In many cases, people combine more than one, or even all of these seven fears together when they look out at their audience. They believe that some are more intelligent, others more successful, wealthier, more stable in relationships, more influential, healthier and more spiritually moral. No wonder they are afraid to stand up and speak.