Episode: How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.

Megan Hyatt Miller: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.

Michael:  And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. Today we’re going to talk about something that’s very important for leadership, all leaders, in fact, but probably most leaders are terrified of doing what we’re going to be talking about today, and that’s public speaking.

Megan: This is a real problem for a lot of people. In fact, this has been a huge problem for me, personally. I’ve talked about it publicly. As a leader, you cannot avoid public speaking. Maybe you’re not a professional public speaker, so you’re thinking, “Maybe I’m safe.” You’re not, because you’re going to have team meetings and presentations within your company or to your clients or prospective clients, even outside events.

Most people feel really inadequate in this area, and they feel underprepared. So you’re trying to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, and it’s not in your skill set, but you have to do it, and you have to do it in front of an audience. It just feels like a setup, because it’s so much pressure.

Michael: It is, and it keeps a lot of people from excelling in their role as a leader, because they let this fear keep them back. I think you experienced that. We’ll talk about that today. But today we’re actually going to solve it for everybody listening to this with three actions you can take to finally conquer your fear of public speaking. In fact, this may grow to become something you actually enjoy, as it did for me. Before we get to that, Larry, welcome.

Larry Wilson: Hey, Megan, Michael. How are you?

Megan: Good to see you.

Larry: Thank you. Great to be here.

Michael: I’m excited about this topic.

Larry: Yeah. I think everybody who has had to do it has faced some level of fear. I know I certainly have.

Michael: I was going to ask you if you did, because you used to be a pastor and you’ve done a lot of public speaking. Was it a big deal for you initially?

Larry: Yeah. The first time I had to get up and speak, not in some class setting but actually in front of a live audience, I wanted to throw up. I didn’t, by God’s grace, but yeah, it was rough. It was very hard to overcome, but as you said, I actually came to enjoy it. It took a lot of time and experience, but I got there by being very intentional about it.

Michael: I don’t know about you. Maybe it’s because I didn’t speak as frequently as a pastor would, but it took me about three decades. The first time I ever spoke was actually in a church. I was on a summer missions program in Galveston, Texas. The pastor let me know on a Wednesday that he was going to be away that next weekend (this was the guy I was assigned to), and he said, “And, oh, by the way, you’re going to be preaching for me.” I was like, “But, but, but, but, I’ve never spoken before publicly.” I was terrified.

I cannot tell you how terrified I was, but I guess because he was so accustomed to it, he would hear nothing of my protests about speaking. He was just saying, “You’ll do fine. Don’t worry about it.” Well, I prepared night and day right up until the moment I got up and spoke. I couldn’t sleep. My palms were sweaty. I was sweaty everywhere. I had this irrational fear of it. I thought I was going to throw up when I got up onstage, but I survived. That was kind of my experience for a lot of the times I spoke, literally for years. I always had this never quite but almost debilitating fear of speaking.

Larry: Well, Megan, you’ve been pretty open about your story in this regard, and you’ve really struggled with that too.

Megan: It actually started when I was in high school. I had a friend who was giving a presentation and was so overcome with fear she ran out of the room, and I just remember empathizing with that. It really stuck with me. It was kind of like secondary trauma or something. In my mind, from that point on, any kind of public speaking, you know, standing up in front of the class to share anything, was terrible, and that continued into my adult life.

In my early 20s, I remember being in a small group at church, and we were reading aloud. You know how you do that. You read a book together or something, and you’re supposed to each read a paragraph. I literally could not do it. I could not breathe. I started to hyperventilate. It got to the point that it was truly debilitating. So, as I advanced in my career, I would always kind of say to myself, “Well, I can do that thing because it won’t involve public speaking. I can do that thing, I can go to that next level, because I don’t think I’ll have to speak.”

I would always find creative ways to avoid it, but at a certain point, I couldn’t avoid it anymore. I really avoided it probably 10 years longer than I should have, but it came to a head a couple of summers ago when our team was planning a big event, the biggest event we had ever done. I came back from sabbatical, and they said, “Hey, we want you to keynote at this.” At this point, I had not been public about it. I was just trying to fake it and hope nobody would notice that I was never up there. I was like, “Oh, okay.” I just said, “Yes,” and inside I’m dying, like, this is a death sentence.

Michael: Now everybody is going to know.

Megan: Now everybody is going to know. They said, “There will be like 850 people there,” and I’m like, “You have got to be kidding me. You’re telling me that the first time I’m going to speak publicly is in front of 850 people?” This was like six weeks before the event. I mean, it was truly the fight of my life. We actually have a whole episode of me talking about this journey I’ve been on. We’ll share some more of it later. I ultimately made it through, and it was actually a really great experience, but it was the most brutal six weeks of my life.

Larry: That episode of Lead to Win is called The Year of Facing Fear. We’ll put a link in the show notes to that. You come at this from similar starting points, although, Megan, your experience was a little more profound on the fear side. Michael, you have now decades of speaking experience and are one of the most accomplished speakers I’ve known, so you bring that whole perspective to the equation as well. So I think today what we’ll do is talk about this fear that everybody faces and have you each share your experience about that. Some of it I think is going to be the same, but I think there are some differences in the way you have approached this.

Every leader can overcome the fear of public speaking by conquering fear on three levels. Let’s talk about the first level, which is the fear of inadequacy. By that, I mean this primal fear that I’m just not good enough to do this. This is kind of an existential fear, a little bit like what you described, Megan. It’s a very profound fear.

Megan: It’s kind of like an identity issue, that I don’t deserve to be on the stage, that somehow there’s something about me that is just not enough. “That’s for other people. I don’t want to be seen in that way.” I feel exposed. I feel like I will be exposed by being onstage for being inadequate. It’s this really profound imposter syndrome fear that a lot of people have.

By the way, if you’re a leader or you want to be a leader and this is a fear for you… We probably should have said this at the beginning, but most people feel like this. Most people have this fear or have had this fear, and I think the lie we tell ourselves, as leaders, as we’re kind of facing this sense of inadequacy in our own identity, is like, “Oh, it just must be me, and the fact that I’m afraid about it only confirms that I don’t deserve to be up there.” That is such a lie, because everybody feels like that.

Michael: Jerry Seinfeld has this famous bit where he says most people would rather be dead than do public speaking. He says that means if you go to a funeral, you’d rather be in the box than giving the eulogy.

Megan: Totally.

Larry: Probably true.

Michael: I can remember back about seven years ago still having a fear of public speaking, and this was right after I’d launched out into this new business. My dear friend Ken Davis had asked me to be a partner in his business, which was called the SCORRE Conference. Basically, what we did was we trained speakers, except that I was being asked in that conference to speak in front of not only all of our students but a room full of coaches.

We had about 20 coaches who worked with our students. These were some of the most accomplished speakers in the world. They were speech coaches. Now, I’d been speaking for about three decades, but I can remember being in Colorado and calling Gail on the phone the morning of. I’d been up literally all night, tossing and turning, worrying about whether I was enough, this fear of inadequacy. What could I possibly have to say to these professional speech coaches? It was really hard.

I would say even today that still is very present to me. I don’t let it hold me back, and that was almost debilitating that morning. I never have it quite to that extent, for reasons we’ll talk about in a minute, but I never don’t think of that. I never go to a BusinessAccelerator coaching session, or like next week I’m doing a major speech to about 1,000 people… I always think to myself, “Am I enough?” It crosses my mind. Now what you do with that is the crucial thing, but having that thought is normal.

Larry: So, what do you do with that?

Michael: Well, what I do is I stop focusing on myself. Here’s what happens if I’m not careful. I get all up in my head, and I start thinking, “Am I enough? Is my content going to be insightful enough? Do I have anything to contribute? What will they think of me? What will they think about what I’m wearing?” You can get all up thinking about yourself, and that self-focus only exacerbates the natural anxiety you’re going to feel.

The thing that happened to me… And this shift radically impacted how I feel about public speaking. I stopped focusing on me and started focusing on the audience. “Who are they? How did they show up today? What are their dreams? What are the obstacles they’re facing? What are their fears? What are their concerns?” If I can literally obsess about the audience, then I’m not obsessing about myself. I can’t do both at the same time. So I start obsessing about the audience and how I can serve them, and that’s just everything for me.

Larry: Megan, when you received that invitation and you said, “Yes…”

Megan: I actually would have thought of it at the time that it was a sentence, not an invitation…a death march.

Larry: Well, how did you deal with that? You still had the fear. How did you move past it?

Megan: Well, like I said earlier, it was a six-week, hand-to-hand combat battle in my own head. I really had to face lifelong fears. I’m not exaggerating. I don’t think I can possibly overestimate how difficult it was. It began with verbalizing the fear, which I had never done before. In fact, I was in Chicago. I was at my coaching program, and I was coming home. This was probably two weeks after or a week after I had been asked to give this speech.

I was sitting at the gate, tired. You know how when you’re tired your defenses are down and, all of a sudden, your emotions start to pop up. Well, all of a sudden, I’m in tears, sitting at the gate, all dressed up from a business meeting, surrounded by people. It was packed. You know how Chicago is. It was like a Thursday night. I’m just sitting there crying, and I texted Michele Cushatt, my good friend who’s a speech coach.

I said, “Michele, I have to give a speech, and I am scared out of my mind.” It was the first time in my life I had ever said it other than to my husband. Joel knew this fear. We had talked about it a lot, but nobody else knew. Dad, I had never shared it with you. Literally no one. I sent her this long message in tears, and she responded something like, “Don’t worry; I can help you.” I was like, “Okay. We have a track to run on.” I still thought I was going to die, but I thought at least I wouldn’t die alone.

Larry: Well, if you have this deep dread of getting up in front of an audience, Michael’s advice is to stop thinking about yourself. Think about the good you can do for other people, what they need and who they are. Megan says: Face the fear. Say it out loud. Tell somebody. That’s the first step to moving beyond it.

Let’s move to the second level of fear people feel about public speaking. This is the fear of failure. I think this is a more practical fear. “I’ve not done this before. I’m not good at that. I don’t like the sound of my own voice. I’m not sure I have the ability to put together a 20-minute presentation.” This is more about the practics of speaking. Have you felt that?

Michael: What I always think to myself… This just crosses my mind. I don’t indulge it, so I’m going to tell you how I counteract it in a minute, but I always think, “I’m going to forget something important,” so that’s an issue. Sometimes that causes me to create way more notes than I need in the actual speech. The other thing I think is, “I’m not going to have enough content to fill the time.”

Now, not once in my entire history of speaking, probably now thousands of times, have I never filled the time, but also, having said that… Somebody said to me one time that nobody ever cares if a speech goes short; they only care if it goes long. You actually get points if you’re shorter, but still, that’s like an irrational fear. “I’m going to get up there and forget something important or I’ll start into a story and forget the point I was making,” or whatever. That doesn’t really happen either.

Larry: So, what do you do to counteract that? I’m guessing you way overprepare, so you have pages and pages and pages of notes so you don’t feel like you’re without ammunition, but beyond that, how do you overcome that “Boy, I just don’t know if I can really pull this off”?

Michael: Here’s the key thing I do, and this is what I’d recommend to everybody else. You have to connect with what’s true, because your mind creates these things that aren’t true. Here’s what I don’t do. People say, “You should imagine the audience naked.” No, that’s just stupid. That doesn’t work.

Megan: And awkward.

Michael: First of all, I review what’s true about me. I know I have something of value to share, and I know I’ve done this before and it has been a genuine help, that I’ve survived, the audience has survived, they’ve been genuinely helped, and I believe I’ve been called to do this. Beyond that, I actually have some truths that are in an Evernote note of affirmations. It sounds maybe a little bit hokey or a little bit woo-woo, but it’s not. These are things that are true.

I literally repeat these things to myself before I take the stage. I say, for example, “I’m not here by accident.” That’s a fundamental belief. “I’m not here by accident. God sent me to these people at exactly this time.” I’m reciting to you word for word what I actually say to myself. I say, “That’s because he has a purpose; therefore, I have a purpose in being there.” This is not about me; this is about a bigger story and a bigger purpose.

I say, “What I have to share today is vitally important. It matters to them, to their loved ones, and to all the people they will eventually impact.” Then I say, “Those that hear this message will be changed forever. Years from now, they will look back on today and say it all started here.” Now, that’s a little bit more aspirational than truth. I hope what I have to deliver is going to be one of those life-changing things that they look back on and think that about it.

Then I say… I’m a person of faith, and this is where I come down. I just say, “Through Christ I can do all things.” That happens to be a quote from a Bible verse. “He has given me every resource I need to succeed.” It’s true. Then I say, “I have the energy, the passion, and the message to make a huge impact, now and for eternity.”

Then this is my last affirmation. I say, “By God’s grace, I am prepared. My heart is wide open. I will connect and see transformation.” When I go through that… It’s almost a ritual now that I go through. Then I feel like, “Okay. I’m ready.” There’s one other thing I do. I play a short audio clip Gail gave to me years ago, where she literally is screaming into the microphone, “Michael Hyatt, you freakin’ rock!”

Megan: That’s so great.

Michael: Then a Bon Jovi song comes on. I literally play that every time before I speak. It just lights me up, and I’m ready. It’s like the rocket is lit. I’m ready to go.

[Audio clip]

The words have nothing positive or good to say about the whole situation, but…

Megan: That’s so funny.

Larry: Amazing.

Megan: In my own experience, I actually did a similar version of this. When I was giving that big speech, I created kind of a vision, really, like an affirmation of how I wanted to feel and how I wanted to show up. I had never done anything like this before. My sister Mary gave me this recommendation. I created a three-page, handwritten on yellow legal pad, aspirational vision of what I wanted for that process of preparation and ultimately delivery, coming off of stage.

In vivid detail I described that, and then for weeks, I read it out loud with a soundtrack from the Gladiator movie. I’m trying to remember what the track was. I don’t remember off the top of my head. I wanted to feel in my body what it would feel like to succeed. It was really helpful for me, actually, because I didn’t have a precedent for doing that in the way I wanted to do it.

Michael: This is where I think we sometimes underestimate the power of music to evoke certain emotions and a certain mindset. It can act as sort of a psychological trigger that can change our emotional state quicker than almost anything else.

Megan: Athletes do this all the time. You’d see Michael Phelps with his Beats on listening to music before he got in the water. Plenty of other athletes do the same thing.

Larry: Megan, you did more, though, than just get yourself fired up or to get a positive vibe going. You actually got some training for this.

Megan: Yeah. I really tried to get all the help I could get. I think I started from a place of “I will do whatever it takes to conquer this fear.” Honestly, the speech itself was a means to an end. I realized all of a sudden I was just sick and tired of having my life controlled by this fear. It was outdated. It really didn’t match who I was in the present. It was kind of like a 20-year-old fear that was just something I had been dragging around, so I was determined to conquer it. I was kind of like, “Okay. What can I do?”

The first thing I did is I started Googling, “Speech anxiety therapist,” and I found this guy who didn’t turn out to be super helpful, but he gave me some good advice. I think I had one session with him. It was kind of like a virtual thing. One of the things he said to me was, “When you feel anxiety come up in your body, first of all, you can’t control that. You can’t will it away, so when it happens, you need to say to yourself, ‘Okay.’ Just notice it, and then go to work. ‘We’ll deal with that later. I’m nervous right now. That’s good to know, and I’ve got to go to work.’” And by going to work, it’s giving the speech or practicing the speech. I thought that was really good advice, and it really helped me.

The other thing I did is I went to my primary care doctor and asked for anxiety medicine, which I got. I didn’t end up using it, but I absolutely had it with me. It was like my failsafe. I had a speech coach who I mentioned earlier, Michele Cushatt, who was fantastic. She actually helped me prepare, so I practiced on my own, I practiced in front of her. Mandi Rivieccio on our content team actually wrote most of the content for me, and then I kind of refined it.

So I had, really, everything from the psychological support I needed to the content support I needed. I just thought, “I need everything I can possibly get to help me overcome this fear, because if it kills me, I am getting on that stage. Even if it’s a disaster, I will deliver that speech and come off of it.”

Michael: I think this is a really important concept in trying anything you’ve never done before. Why do we think we have to go it alone? For you, this was a sort of Mount Everest you were attempting to climb, and you would never think of climbing Mount Everest on your own. You would make sure that you had a guide who had been to the top before, who was the best you could find.

You’d make sure you were resourced with the right supplies, the right provisions, all that, yet when it comes to public speaking, part of the fear is that we feel so alone and feel so inadequate, to speak to that level one fear. But here, I think, we need to enlist the help of the best coaches we can find. It doesn’t mean we have to pay for it, although sometimes that could be the best thing we could do. If you could overcome your fear of speaking, what would that make possible in your career?

Megan: That’s what I realized.

Michael: It’s worth the investment.

Megan: It was totally worth it. Because what does it cost you to let this fear control you? What have you missed out on? What part of your potential is unrealized because you’re letting this fear have more control of you than it should?

Larry: I ran into a quote the other day that said, “Self-reliance isn’t a superpower; it’s a vice.” It kind of goes along with what you’re saying, Michael.

Michael: That’s really true.

Larry: It can actually hamstring you if you go too far with it.

Michael: I think Americans, particularly, have a problem with this, because we’re such individualists in our thinking. We need to think more about these big challenges as a team sport, and “Who can I get on my team to help make this easier for me so I can do a better job?”

Megan: So, practically speaking, if you hear my story and you’re thinking, “Well, I’d like to hire a speech coach,” I don’t think Michele is doing much of that anymore, but the SCORRE Conference that we mentioned earlier is still available. That’s still something you could take part of. We don’t have any involvement with them anymore, any vested interest in recommending that to you except that it’s absolutely the best training we know of. So take advantage of that.

Larry: I’ll put in my two cents on that. I went to that conference after more than 25 years of public speaking, and I wasn’t sure how much I would learn because I’d been doing this a while. Oh boy, did it open my eyes to how to improve my speaking and writing.

Michael: So true.

Larry: It was a huge benefit. Well, the second level is the fear of failure. This is the practical fear of just not being able to do this because you don’t have the skill. Michael’s advice is to stay centered on the truth, especially if you have some experience, that you have been successful and you can do this and you’ve proven it. Remember that and affirm it. Megan says: Get some help. No reason you have to do this all by yourself.

Let’s move to the third level in the fear of public speaking, which is the fear of the moment. This is those moments before your introduction or before you have to walk out in front of the audience or even the morning of and that kind of ranging from butterflies in the stomach to a paralyzing fear of actually doing it. How do you cope with that?

Michael: Well, Megan kind of mentioned this in the last point, but I want to elaborate on it. That is, I acknowledge and accept a certain level of anxiety, and that’s not a bad thing. I think the way God has made us is that whenever we do something important, we need to be at our best. Again, I said earlier about adrenaline flowing through us does give us that ability to focus. Everything else goes out of focus. We get extremely focused on what we’re about to do.

You could look at this from a “the way God designed us” perspective, if that’s your worldview, or this is a way we evolved, if that’s your worldview, but kind of a superpower humans have is to stay focused on one thing and let everything else kind of fade out of our line of sight. So, I literally say to myself when I begin to feel that anxiety, if my palms get a little sweaty or I feel my breathing getting short, or whatever, you know, “Oh, this is how my body prepares itself for peak performance.”

That’s completely a reframe of something like, “Oh my god! I’m going to fail,” and then you go into that doom loop in your thinking and exacerbate the anxiety where it gets worse and worse and worse, and it can be debilitating and maybe even keep you from going onstage, like you talked about your friend in high school who actually left the room, who didn’t follow through with the speech because she let that overcome her.

So I just reframe it, and I don’t try to deny it. Here’s what doesn’t work: “I’m not nervous. I’m not nervous. I’m not nervous.” No. You just have to say, “You know what? I’m anxious, and that’s a good thing.” God forbid that I would ever step on a stage when I didn’t feel some level of anxiety, because I will not think as well. I will not be as focused. I will not be as in the moment as I am when I have a little bit of anxiety.

The other thing I like to do is think past the speech. It was actually my friend Joy Groblebe, who’s also associated with the SCORRE Conference, who said to me… She used to manage my speaking career. She would say to me, “Just remember, by this time tomorrow this will be a memory.” That kind of got me in the frame of mind that, “Hey, I’m going to get through this.” And it’s true. I have two speeches to give this next week, literally, and I have a little bit of anxiety, because I have a lot of rehearsal I need to do to give those two speeches.

I’m going to actually be speaking with my wife Gail at this one event, and we’ve only spoken publicly in my Sunday school class, never in front of a large audience, so I have a little bit of anxiety around that. But one of the things I’ve been saying this week is, “You know, by this time next week it’ll be in the books, it’ll be over, and however we did is however we did. We’ll probably do great.” So, yeah, think past the presentation.

Megan: I used to think that to be successful speaking you had to not be nervous and that that was the goal. You know, you have to be not anxious before you step onstage, and if you were anxious, that was a really problematic indicator. What I’ve learned now, like you said, is that you’re probably going to feel some level of anxiety, and there’s a range. It can be excitement to significant anxiety, but you can actually still perform even when you feel anxious. Those are not mutually exclusive. That was a big insight for me. In fact, I’ve spoken a number of times since that initial speech, and it has mostly gone really well.

Michael: It has always gone really well.

Megan: Thanks. I appreciate that. We had our Focused Leader event a few months ago, and I gave two speeches on that day, which I had not done two in one day before. The first one, I was surprised I felt nervous again. All of a sudden, not nearly… I imagine I’ll never feel nervous in the way I did that very first one, but I did feel nervous, and I had to make a choice in that moment. “Okay. I feel nervous. I know I can get through this.” Because my previous fear, talking about the fear of the moment… What I actually thought would happen is that I would get onstage and I would not be able to breathe and I would lose control of my body.

Michael: That’s pretty common too, I think.

Megan: Not that I would throw up. I never really felt nauseated or anything like that, but that I would almost be choked or that I would just be humiliated.

Michael: Like your mind goes blank?

Megan: No, not really about that.

Michael: Or you collapse?

Megan: I don’t even know. It was totally irrational, but really it was about breathing. What I’ve learned is if you get through those first few minutes while you feel nervous and you move around and you just try to slow it all down in your mind, eventually you settle in, and it’s okay. Even if it’s not the best speech you’ve ever done, what you learn, after you do a number of these, is that you’re going to get through it and you have another chance later to have it feel really natural, to feel like you’re really who you wanted to be.

There’s a whole range of “It’s okay,” everything from “It’s okay enough” (my goal the first time was just to finish) to “It was spectacular, and I know I changed people’s lives.” I think if you can adjust a little bit in your thinking, it can really be helpful for you. So that was a big one for me. The other thing I learned along the way… Somebody said to me, “When you step on the stage, don’t try to not be a speaker.” In other words, what some people do is they step onstage, and they try to get off as fast as they can.

Maybe this doesn’t show up if you’re doing a keynote, because at that point you’re a speaker, but if you’re giving a presentation at work… Maybe you need to make an announcement. Maybe you need to present about a product to your team, something like that. You basically try to be as invisible as possible. You try to get it over with as quickly as possible, make as little eye contact as possible, and get the heck out of there before anybody knows it happened.

Well, that is a recipe… You’re really affirming your anxiety, the fact that you don’t deserve to be there. Instead, walk in there and just settle in. “I am speaking now. I am talking. I’m going to let it happen for whatever length of time it needs to happen to present on what I need to present on.” That’s a very different mindset, and I’m allowed to feel nervous while I’m doing it. It’s okay.

Michael: You kind of have to own the moment.

Megan: Yeah. If my voice shakes, it’s okay. If my breathing gets a little shallow, I can just slow it down, take a couple of minutes and get my breath while I’m talking. If I flush, that’s okay. I mean, I flush all the time if I’m excited, if I’m nervous. It doesn’t matter. That’s just part of my fair-skinned way of being. I’ve just had to make friends with adrenaline, with anxiety. Instead of trying to make all that stuff stop and have this kind of white-knuckled control of my body, just to realize, “I’m a physical human person, and all of these things are going to happen, and I can continue to perform regardless of what happens.”

Larry: The truth is that no matter how well or how poorly a speaking engagement or speaking opportunity goes, people are going to hear you and someone is going to benefit, even if you don’t think you did a very good job.

Megan: That’s really true.

Michael: Your perception of how you did occasionally corresponds with reality.

Megan: It’s so true.

Michael: But not very often. I had to preach at my church a few weeks ago. It’s really weird at a church, because, at least in my church tradition, people are not going to clap at the end. They’re going to give you no verbal affirmation. I’m not in a church where people are saying “Amen” out loud or “Keep preaching.” I wished I was. Like, they’ve given me nothing.

Gail said to me on the way home, “Well, how do you think it went?” and I said, “That sucked. It was not my best outing. I don’t feel like I connected with anybody.” I was just kind of beating myself up, and she said, “I thought it was great.” Well, what else is she going to say? I discount that because it’s from my wife. Right? I mean, I appreciate it, but I discount it. But then I got an email a few days later from a guy (I just got another email from him actually yesterday) who said, “That was a life-altering message.”

Megan: Wow.

Michael: For whatever reason, what I had to say intersected with where he was in his life, and if that’s the only person I helped that day, it was totally worth it.

Megan: That’s enough.

Michael: It completely reframed how I perceived that event. So don’t take your perception too seriously.

Larry: Well, today we’ve learned that any leader really can overcome their fear of public speaking by addressing that fear on three levels. First, the fear of inadequacy. Focus on the audience, not on yourself, and name the fear and face it with action. Next is the fear of failure. Center yourself on the truth you know about yourself and your message, and get some help if you need it. There’s coaching available. Third is the fear of the moment. Welcome a certain level of nervous excitement, because it will aid you, and take control of your mindset through some of the affirmations we’ve talked about. Any final thoughts for our audience today?

Megan: Well, I hope in hearing my story that you’re encouraged. I don’t think anybody could be more terrified than I was. I really feel like I had an Olympic-level fear of public speaking. I hope that gives hope to you. I hope you’re encouraged that you can overcome your fear. I really think it starts with deciding that you’re going to conquer this fear and being absolutely committed to it. If you are, I promise you there’s a way through and there are things you’re capable of that you have no idea about right now.

Michael: My last encouragement would be to remember that any kind of speaking or presenting is a privilege. You’re having the opportunity to influence other people, and that’s a privilege. So you have to be mindful of your language. I used to say things like, “I have to speak at this event.” No. It’s a privilege. People would love to be in my shoes giving speeches.

People would love to be in your shoes, whatever your level of influence is, making that speech or making that presentation. So I shifted that language from “I have to” to “I get to.” I get to speak next week twice. I’m so excited. That language influences the way I think. So be mindful of your words. Your words, in many ways, determine how you’re going to experience the event.

Larry: Michael and Megan, thank you for being open and vulnerable today on this subject, because I know a lot of people feel that fear and may think that you don’t, so it’s encouraging to know that it can be overcome. Thank you.

Michael: Yeah, and thank you, Larry. Thanks for guiding us through this. Thank you guys for joining us today. We’ll see you right here next week. Until then, lead to win.