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This chapter is from the book

But I Hate Speaking in Public

That's fine. Public speaking is not for everybody. We don't expect everyone to become a public speaker. Not everyone can be an expert; not everyone wants to speak to large crowds. You can still have an outstanding career and can create a great personal brand without doing it. But most leaders and rock stars in their industry are asked to speak in public.

If you don't want to speak in public because you're afraid, don't worry about it. We promise you won't die. (Hey, that's the name of this chapter!)

A lot of people are afraid of public speaking. They're afraid of being judged. They're afraid people won't like them or will find out they're frauds. They're afraid of making mistakes and looking foolish.

One year, Erik was a volunteer speechwriter for a woman running for the U.S. Congress. She had been scheduled to do a recorded debate at a local TV station against the incumbent. She was so nervous that before she could even give her opening statement, she tore off her headphones and walked off.

Someone from the station calmed her down and encouraged her to try it one more time. She put her headphones on, got through her opening statement, and then lost it. "I can't do this, I just can't do this." she cried. She then ran out the door, got into her car, and drove away. That was the news clip that made national news, which Erik was able to see while he was at a conference eight hours away.

The candidate's explanation later was that she got stage fright and let it get the best of her. She had been giving speeches around the district for a few months already but came unglued when there were TV cameras involved.

There are two important points you need to remember, that Erik's candidate forgot, when you give a speech, make a presentation, or even just toast the bride and groom at a wedding:

  1. Everyone wants you to do a good job. Nobody is hoping you screw up so they can leap to their feet, point their finger, and shout "See? See, I told you she was a phony!"
  2. Everyone in the room is just as nervous as you are when giving a talk, so no one's going to be unsympathetic or judgmental about your efforts. When Erik's candidate left her debate, even her opponent told the papers he understood that she was nervous.
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