According to surveys, fear of public speaking ranks among Americans' top dreads, surpassing fear of illness, fear of flying, fear of terrorism, and often the fear of death itself.
All I know is when I was first appointed to an international lecture board, I was absolutely paralyzed with fear. I, who ALWAYS have something to say, was struck dumb - and I had writer's block to boot.
I discovered that I wasn't alone. Each person in our class of twelve was up against a deadline for a major presentation and everyone was just as terrified as I was. But there there was a lovely dynamic of support and encouragement between us.
I don't really remember much about the course except for one incident that occurred on the final day of class. Each was to give a five minute presentation. It was now one month before my first scheduled lecture and I couldn't pull together even five minutes of material to share. I was still trying to scale that wall of fear.
When it was my turn to stand up, the teacher saw that I was sinking fast. She said, "Michelle, do you know that stomach churning, head spinning, sweaty-handed feeling you have right now?"
"Yes," I said.
"You are misinterpreting what you are feeling. You think that is fear, but its not."
She continued, "What you are feeling is the energy generated from your love for your subject. Remember and focus on what you love. The words will flow from love."
That changed everything! I spoke for five minutes about what I loved and left all thought of fear in the dust.
Within the week of that final class I wrote my first lecture and soon delivered it without a hint of trouble. I remembered the love behind every word. Love for the subject. Love for the audience. It was all about the love. It is always about the love.
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear." (I John 4:18, New International Version)
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