Facing Fear series…
A guest post by Melanie at www.Melanieredd.com
I can remember it like it was yesterday.
Dressed in my Sunday best, I was seated alongside 7 others. One by one, we were to get up and make a 3-minute speech before a crowd of about 1,200 of our peers.
In the speaking order, I was slated last.
Waiting for my turn, I was incredibly nervous. In fact, I remember my legs were shaking so badly that I had to hold them still by pressing down hard onto the stage with my feet. It was one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life.
My turn finally came. I don’t remember much except for a deep feeling of peace while I spoke. As I concluded my remarks, the crowd stood to their feet and cheered for me.
I hurried back to my seat—both very grateful it was over and rather curious as to how much I had enjoyed it all. I was both relieved and elated at my first real adventure in public speaking.
Just hearing those words causes many people to tremble in fear.
According to The Chapman University Survey of American Fears, public speaking is high on the list of great fears of Americans and on par with fears such as the fear of natural disasters, property damage, heights, and spiders.
Many people are terrified of public speaking; close to 30% say it scares them or greatly scares them.
Maybe you are one of those people who is afraid to get up in front of a group and speak, share, testify, or lead. You are in very good company.
And, I was in “that company” along with you for many years.
However, I couldn’t STAY there.
God just wouldn’t let me.
For, you see, there was a message burning in my heart that had to be shared. God had given me the desire as a teenager to offer hope and encouragement to those around me.
As a ninth grader, I was seated in an Arkansas camp pavilion listening to a pastor talk about surrendering completely to God’s plans for our lives. In those moments, I told the Lord that I would do whatever He called me to do—even if it scared me to death!
God called me to get out of my comfort zone and invited me to yield my life to His service.
From that camp moment forward, my desire to follow God’s plan for my life became BIGGER than my desire to stay safe.
And, so I began to speak – whenever, however, and to whoever would listen.
When God opened a door, I went through it.
Was I still scared? Yes!
Did I still shake beforehand? Yes!
Did it make me nervous? Absolutely!
However, I did it anyway!
You can too!
How Can You Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking?
With Much Prayer
Before I ever address any group, I spend a lot of time praying. I pray over my message. I pray over my nerves. I pray for my audience. I pray much!
I also invite many friends and family members to pray with me and for me. There is power in prayer.
Fear is overcome by prayer!
You can do this as well. Before you do that thing that scares you, ramp up your prayer life. Pray much. And, invite others to pray with you and for you.
With Much Preparation
Believe it or not, I sometimes spend as much as 25-30 hours preparing for one message. I will think on it, pray over it, read over it, go over it, write it, rewrite it, and then go over it some more. I “soak” and “saturate” myself in every single message I teach. (I do this over every blog I write as well).
Preparation alleviates much of the fear. When I am prepared, I do not have to even think about what I am sharing. It is a part of me.
If you’d like to be less fearful when speaking, make sure to be well-prepared. The preparation will soothe the nerves.
With the Right Priorities
When I get in front of a group of any size and for any purpose, I really only have to focus on two things. These two priorities are paramount each time I take a stage or hold a microphone:
- I want to honor and glorify my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with my message.
- I want to encourage and offer hope to the people in my audience.
It’s not about me; it’s about Him and them!
With Much Practice
Just as in any other arena, practice makes perfect. To get better and more comfortable at public speaking, you must practice speaking publicly.
No matter how much you study it, read about it, pray about it, and think about it; you will not overcome the fear of public speaking without speaking in public!
The more you speak, the more at ease you will become in front of a group. It will not happen overnight, but the jitters will eventually diminish.
Even after publicly speaking for over 30 years, there are times I still get a little nervous before I step out on a stage.
Often, I will look to a passage that gives me courage as my name is about to be called.
It’s from Proverb 3:25-26:
Do not be afraid of sudden fear
Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;
For the Lord will be your confidence
And will keep your foot from being caught.
Maybe today you are afraid of something.
Possibly it’s public speaking.
My encouragement to you is to let your desire to do that thing be greater than your fear of that thing.
Let your God-given dreams and your calling be the priority over your timidity and unease.
Because if you don’t, you will miss out on the JOY of all of the amazing adventures that God has for you.
Remember that shaky speaker that I mentioned at the start?
I was only 17 years old—speaking to an auditorium filled with 1,200 high school students.
That moment was a turning point in my life.
I turned, and I never looked back.
Won’t you do the same today?
Blogger, author, speaker, encourager and teacher, Melanie’s passion is to offer HOPE! Married to Randy for 25 years; the couple enjoys travel, eating out, and hanging out with their two college-aged kids. You can read more from Melanie on her blog at www.melanieredd.com.
What an encouraging post, Melanie! Thank you so much for giving such wonderful tips and encouragement on how to overcome the fear of public speaking! I know it will be a great help to many. I really appreciate your friendship and your participation in this series!
Do you struggle with any fears? What steps have you taken to overcome them? I hope this series will be helpful to you as you learn to face some fears in your own life.
Read the previous posts in this series: