She said what? How to beat the dread of embarrassment to speak out in public.

There are many reasons I hear from people when they explain to me why they would never do a presentation at work. The overarching reason is worry. And of course, each person’s worry is another person’s, well worry. The things I hear range from the obvious practical concerns such as “what if the mike doesn’t work” to an anxiety laden imagined future of them suddenly saying or doing something that results in catastrophe, such as them losing their jobs, their home and their partner. The list goes on.

One specific worry I hear, especially from women, is the fear of embarrassment. That she might do and say something so embarrassing that will result in disaster. It takes the form of what I call the “what ifs”.  What if I trip up on the way to the stage, stumble over my words, go bright red, forget my speech, say a joke that doesn’t get a laugh and so on and so forth.

Here’s the thing, it might happen!

You might go bright red, you might stumble over your words, you might forget your speech, you might say a joke that you think is funny and it goes down like a fart on a first date. So what to do?

Let me ask you this – do you allow these “what ifs” to stop you in other areas of your life? For the mums out there, you did not allow the “what ifs” to stop you from becoming a mother. For the people with jobs, you did not allow the “what ifs” from stopping you from applying for the job and attending the job interview and then accepting the job. For the home owners, you did not allow the “what ifs” to stop you buying a house.

Any fear of embarrassment was overcome or put aside for the ultimate goal. So, you worried you’d have total strangers looking at your privates when you gave birth. You got over it because you wanted a kid. You worried that you’d mess up at your job interview. You went anyway because it was your dream job. You worried you’d get turned down for the mortgage or that people would judge your current house and not buy it. You did it anyway because you wanted a new house.

How to beat the dread of embarrassment? You already do it! You do plenty of things that involve the potential for you to feel embarrassed.

The real reason you are not volunteering to do presentations at work isn’t “just” because you worry about embarrassing yourself, because if it was, wouldn’t that stop you from doing other things that may cause you to feel embarrassed? It’s because of some deeper limiting belief. Perhaps you are hyper-critical of your standards – a perfectionist – and the real worry is that you would fail to deliver a presentation to your exalting standards. Perhaps your limiting belief is that you feel unworthy and undeserving so believe that nobody will listen to what you say. All of us have limiting beliefs and I’d encourage you to dig deep to look at the real reason you aren’t putting yourself forward at work to speak out in front of others.

The trick is to focus on what you want to achieve by volunteering to do that presentation and get to work on your limiting beliefs.

Go on, I give you permission. Volunteer now and come back here to let us know how it goes.