How I stopped freaking out when speaking to people | A journey with 4 lessons

Denial

For as long as I can remember, whenever I’d have to speak in front of people, my heart would start thumping, my mind would start racing and I’d start blurting out words rapidly and with no coherence. And the fact that I was in complete denial of this fear didn’t help at all.

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Change

The trigger for change came at a leadership event that I participated in. I was my usual self, feeling awkward and trying to mask it with tricks and hacks.

full speech here, for the Roumaninans out there ;)
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1. The most powerful thing to know is that it’s okay to fuck up

And I’m not saying it in a make-me-feel-better way. This is actually the best way to minimize the mental chatter that’s such a big part of fear.

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2. Encouraging others is the best way of dealing with your own fear

This is something I didn’t expect at all: the most effective method of dealing with my own fear didn’t have much to do with me. It was all about encouraging others to confront their own version of this fear of public speaking.

that fear becomes smaller for both of you

This was another huge advantage at Toastmasters: being a member, I didn’t only give speeches. I would also have to evaluate others, encourage them and give them the best feedback I was capable of. And telling others that they can do it, I suddenly found myself believing it, too!

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3. You don’t conquer fear. You learn to live with it

About 2 years passed since I won that trophy that marked the success of my “public speaking project”. Since then, I’ve had quite a lot of events to moderate and speeches to present. In short, I kept gaining experience.

My fear never went away. I just learned to live with it.

More specifically, I learned to expect fear, without expecting that it will ruin everything. To leave it in the background, and keep going anyways.

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4. It’s absolutely worth it

I believe that one of the most perverse things when it comes to dealing with fear and insecurities is how easily the battle can be lost before it even begins.

“if public speaking didn’t kill me, this won’t kill me either”

And soon enough, this automatic way of thinking made me take on opportunities that would’ve terrified me before — opportunities that, among others, ended up sending my professional growth through the roof.

Final thoughts

So, that’s about it for my journey. Confronting my fear taught me some of the most valuable lessons I know: that it’s okay to fuck up, that encouraging others pays huge dividends, that you can live with fear and that it’s totally worth doing it. I hope you found some value in those lessons, as well.

Kudos to you, for keeping an open mind in front of so many fears and insecurities!

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Dragos Bilaniuc

Dragos Bilaniuc

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Tech guy • Explorer • Avid public speaker, writer and Latino dancer. Still looking for the perfect bio. https://dbln.me/