Amy Carroll » Sharing Deeply » Overcoming the Fear Factor in Speaking–Introduction

Overcoming the Fear Factor in Speaking–Introduction

Overcoming our fear and nerves when we speak is one of the most daunting tasks we face. Melanie and Amy feel your pain, and they will share their worst experiences (Yay for transparency– you’re not alone!) and best tips in the series starting this week.

 And take it away, Melanie…

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What do we do when we know God has called us to speak, but the idea of actually speaking – in front of other people –  makes us want to scream, No way, God! Not me!

My first official speaking gig brought a landslide of nerves with a specific side-effect I had not anticipated.

I knew I would be nervous – I was much more comfortable writing than speaking – so I had practiced my talk till I knew it almost by heart, invited a few friends for comfort and support, and set off in determined obedience.

I drove to a local church to deliver my message where about seventy-five women greeted with me with smiles and encouragement.

I began to speak, starting off with a personal story, one that I could tell without looking at my notes, one that would bring a few laughs and hopefully calm my nerves.

But then a phenomenon overwhelmed me that I hadn’t anticipated.

I got the driest mouth I had ever experienced. Obviously, a result of nerves.  What was I to do? I forged ahead with my introductory story while praying inwardly the dry mouth would pass…but it didn’t.

I glanced at my girlfriends seated on the front row, and saw their eyes were wide with horror as they empathized with what was happening to me – nerves were undoing me!

Yes, I had a bottle of water at my podium, but being midstride in my story, I didn’t really want to stop my momentum by getting a sip of water.

And then my mouth became so dry that I could hear my lips smacking from the dryness in my mouth. I tried to swallow to wrestle up some relief for my dry mouth but no luck. All eyes were on me. Would everyone realize how nervous I was?

Looking back it seems so obvious that yes, of course, I should have stopped and taken a sip of water. But as a newbie I became paralyzed.

Finally, because I could barely get out my words, I stopped to take a sip of water. And then went on to deliver the message I had prayed for and carefully crafted.

That experience was 15 years ago – and I still recall it vividly.

Fear of speaking undid me that first time – and many times after. I knew God had confirmed this direction for me, never doubted I was supposed to speak, but for way too long felt scared, insecure, and unqualified.

While I still prefer writing to speaking, I did overcome so much of my fear and can honestly say that I got to a point where I overcame some of my nerves about speaking – now that’s a miracle!

In our next couple of blog posts Amy and I will share some tried and true tips for overcoming the fear factor.

~Melanie

What “side-effects” do you experience when you’re nervous before you speak? If you’ll boldly share, Melanie and Amy will address your specific concerns! Also share your tips if you have found a way to overcome your fears.

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12 Comments

  1. Lafathia N. Daniels says:

    OMG, Monica,
    Everything you jus wrote, remove your name and just add mine. I would accept the invite to speak, because in my mind I am trying to get over fear, and what better way to overcome fear than to take on the very thing that you fear doing. But once i accept, then i am a bundle of nerves, “Over Studying” just to change things up at the last minute. stomach is an absolute mess, no sleep, anxiety on overload.

    1. You can do this, Lafathia! Time and practice really do ease nerves, but I hope the tips in this post help too.

  2. My side effects while speaking include nausea and a racing heart and worse of all forgetfulness!

  3. I experience crazy anxiety. Immediately after I make the commitment I begin to second guess my “yes.” Then I become paralyzed with trying to put together my “talk” on whatever topic and end up waiting until the last minute. I work on it the whole time, but it’s often the last minute before it seems to come together. The closer it gets to the “big day” the more nervous I become and I lose A LOT of sleep. My stomach is in knots and I feel like I want to just RUN for my life. LOL… It’s always funny afterwards, but the buildup is overwhelming sometimes.

    1. Monica, I’ve been right there! Losing sleep was one of my main struggles (still is sometimes–this week before a big interview!), but I promise it gets better over time. I’ll make sure to address this more in one of my upcoming posts too.

    2. Yes…same! Plus, my voice is always shake the first few minutes I speak until I settle into a rhythm of what God has given me to share.

      1. Thank you for sharing the Nehemiah, Philippians, and Exodus verses. I will write those down. Also, thanks for being vulnerable with your side-effects. Praying for you, knowing you will get through it, and knowing also these things we wish would go away, like our fear, keeps us humble and dependent on the Lord.

  4. I am looking forward to reading these tips! Before I speak, I get really flushed and my cheeks get rosy. I’m not hot, it’s just a natural reaction I guess. I sort of open with a joke about it, like “don’t worry I’m not about to pass out” type thing, but it does bother me. Wish there was some way to stop it!

    1. Amanda, my guess is that your audience won’t even notice your “rosy glow” if you don’t mention it. Either that or they’ll be thinking how pretty you look! 🙂 Also, I think it will diminish over time. It won’t take away at all from what you’re sharing!