Public speaking anxiety: how I overcame my fear.

Climbing on the stage and speaking in front of people whose eyes (and ears) are glued to you can be quite intimidating. The speaker at times, can’t go beyond a few lines or fumble throughout the speech or worse still, simply gawk at the audience because the words refuse to come out of the mouth.  There’s a term used for fear of public speaking or speech anxiety: Glossophobia.  And it is this glossophobia which I decided to overcome when the chance to speak from the dais came knocking on my door.

I was always a good speaker during my schooling years. I would participate in debates and declamation contests and win it too. With passage of time though, I lost the confidence at this skill;because I let the opportunity of speaking to the crowds pass by me.  Recently, on the occasion of International women’s day, a grand affair was organized at a public space in which various events were lined-up aiming to entertain and engage women; one being competing in a  talent show . My desire to relive my school days but more so, the will to bust my fear of public speaking, encouraged me  to  instantly gave  my name to compete in the  “speech”  category.

So two days before the event, I got down writing my talk on the topic “women are the key to help other women.” I must tell you writing was the easy part, it’s the speaking part, thinking about which started giving me palpitations. I cursed myself vo kaunsi ghadi thi jab tune speech ke liye opt kiya (what were you even thinking when you opted for speech competition). But now that I have made the mistake of saying yes, I might as well come through it. I had just one day in my hand to practice, and by God!! the amount of practice I did; in front of mirror, while working in the kitchen, during my evening walk and even in the shower I was running over my speech in the head. I also rehearsed multiple times in front of my family,after which I felt little confident.

The D-day arrived but as expected of a first-time speaker ( Ok, technically not first-time but I was speaking publicly after a gap of 20 years) , the hours before the event I had panic-attack; my heart was pounding hard in my chest, hands were oozing out sweat and stomach felt like tied up in knots.  The only  part of my body which was in sync was my mind  which kept telling me  “you can do it”.  My name was announced as the next speaker and with heavy steps I climbed the podium. I was given the mike which I took with shaky hands. So this was it; I was in a make or break situation. I took a deep breath and started. As the words transformed into meaningful sentences, my hands pitched in with gestures.   I was no longer nervous; in fact was enjoying my elocution. I went on to speak on the ways a woman could be another woman’s biggest support and ta-da! finished my speech effortlessly.

“This one was straight from the heart”, one of the judges shouted as I alighted the stairs of the stage. Many of my friends complimented “If eyes could speak, this was it”; I was thankful beyond words. But personally I was relieved I got through it!!

Since it’s not every day that you get to speak in front of a huge gathering and winning it too; I am tempted to share the pics of the event.


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12 thoughts on “Public speaking anxiety: how I overcame my fear.”

  1. Deepa at 8:31 am

    This is wonderful Milan. Good to know about your participation and win. Even I run away from public speaking an I guess its just in our mind. Its all about taking that first step.

  2. bytetrails at 1:53 pm

    Thanks Deepa. Yeah the fear is in our mind only; public speaking is a learnable skill. All one need is lots of practice and ofcourse, deep breathing before we start.

  3. Deepali at 2:30 am

    I have witnessed the roller coaster ride u were going through, though somehow was very much confident abt u. Beautiful heart spoke a thousand words through eyes n no doubt it came out with flying colours. Keep writing n keep expressing Milan. Now nothing can stop u.

    1. bytetrails at 6:29 am

      Such LOVELY words dear. Good to have u as a friend who is so encouraging.

  4. Goldie at 9:03 pm

    I could totally relate this post. I am always a nerve wreck before any public speaking and still think myself a beginner. So happy for you!

    1. bytetrails at 6:37 am

      Thanks for stopping by, glad you could relate to it . I am sure u agree with me that right before speaking publicly if we think in our mind that yes we can do it, it all ends well .

  5. Sarita singhal at 7:02 am

    Bravo .well done. Look ahead always. Always think –Yes I can do it.

  6. Geeta yadav at 3:35 am

    Milan you are star material. I love the way you write …yes straight from the heart. All the best for your endeavours.

    1. bytetrails at 9:52 am

      Thanku so much for such a lovely compliments and wishes Geeta. Glad u like my way of writing. N i hope u keep encouraging me with the choicest of your words.

  7. Alok Singhal at 10:28 am

    We all have gone through some form of anxiety in our lives. I overcame it by being a part of Toastmasters – I have won a few public speaking contests now.

    I just say yes to such opportunities and prepare well.

    Glad to see you rising to the occasion and doing it wonderfully.

    1. bytetrails at 6:11 pm

      Foremost thanks for the compliments.
      As you said correctly we all have our own set of anxieties which we keep nurturing until we decide to overcome it. public speaking was one of mine which i decided to face and glad that i came through with flying colours.
      I wish i knew about Toastmasters when we were in US. Good to know about your winnings.

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