How I Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking

Posted on by Selena Soo, in 'Entrepreneurship'

Once while attending the World Domination Summit, I listened to Danielle LaPorte as she rocked the stage. During the audience Q&A someone asked her: “How do you become a great public speaker?”

Her answer: “You have to train for it like it’s an Olympic sport.”

Those words hit me hard. Because isn’t it true? If you want to be world-class at anything, there’s only one way — you have to give it everything you’ve got.

As an example, when I started preparing for my first major webinar,Β How to Get VIP Access to Media + Influencers, I trained for it like it was the Olympics.

You see, for most of my life, public speaking has completely terrified me.

I’m a natural introvert. I spend a lot of time in my head. When I do talk, I talk really fast. My shy tendencies and self-conscious nature created challenges for me.

microphoneI remember one time in high school history class, I had to give a presentation. I was so nervous that my legs were shaking convulsively the entire time I was speaking.

I tried to spill out my words as quickly as possible, but every moment felt like eternity. I could feel the silence in the room. The whole time, I could tell that my teacher and my classmates were feeling sorry for me.

This fear of public speaking continued for most of my adult life. I remember at my first job, I sometimes had to give presentations to my boss and colleagues.

The night before a presentation, I’d toss and turn, worrying about the next day. When I would wake up in the morning, I’d feel like throwing up.

There was no way I was just going to “wing it” and hope for a successful webinar. So over the course of several weeks, I took extreme measures to prepare.

This included:

  • Hiring a consultant to figure out my core messaging and develop story ideas
  • Spending 8 hours per week with my copyeditor writing and rewriting the presentation
  • Rehearsing it in my living room for my interns. They critiqued my delivery. They told me what parts of my talk were interesting (and what was not).
  • On the day of the webinar, I spent 5 hours rehearsing and refining my presentation.

Overall, I spent about 60 hours “training” for this 1-hour webinar. I realized afterward that I followed the advice I’d once heard about public speaking — spend 1 hour preparing for every 1 minute you are speaking.

The result of all this work?

Close to 700 people (hailing from New York City to a small Mayan village in Guatemala) signed up to hear me speak.

And… I nailed it. I loved every single moment of it.

Now here’s what I want you to take away from all of this:

Success is not an accident.

The success of my presentation didn’t just magically happen for me. It was a direct result of the countless hours I poured into crafting my content, rehearsing my talk, and strategizing the promotion.

So today, ask yourself the question: Where in your business are you just hoping success will magically happen? Are there actions you could take that would make your success inevitable?

Once you figure out the answers to these questions and take action, you’ll be amazed at how much you can overcome.

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19 Responses to “How I Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking”

  1. Bobby Huang

    I’m not really looking for success to magically happen.

    I’m putting tons of effort and jumping outside my comfort zone doing things I dearly dread before doing them.

    Recently was invited to a wedding in Toronto, I went without knowing 2-3 people and dreading all the big social interactions that would happen.

    Luckily I went without making excuses and struck up new relationships with folks and built deeper ones with folks I already knew.

    Now I’m helping some folks build their businesses and growing at the same time growing my own business and myself.

    The actions I’m taking to make success inevitable is to make commitments and going through with them, also constantly listening to audiobooks and reading.

    Thanks for the insights of how much effort you put into that webinar and I’ll be glad to be on the next one Selena.

    • Selena Soo

      Hi Bobby, this is great! I love that you are making clear commitments and are following through. If you’re consistent with that, success is definitely inevitable.

      P.S. As an introvert I could see myself dreading that Toronto wedding. =)

  2. Ashly from Healthy Sexy Hungry

    Thx for being so transparent about what it took to nail it. I’m an entrepreneur and get stuck in the mindset that I shouldn’t spend as much time prepping or preparing (because other people say you shouldn’t “waste” time on it) but it is important for me to have all of my ducks in a row, so I really appreciate you sharing your process. And I loved the webinar πŸ™‚

    • Selena Soo

      Hi Ashly, thanks for sharing that. I’ve heard the same thing before — don’t spend so much time preparing & being a perfectionist. However, when there is such a crowded marketplace of people doing similar things, being committed to excellence and quality is a way to stand out. I’m so happy you enjoyed the webinar. I am so passionate about relationship building/networking, so it means the world to me knowing that people are listening and finding the content helpful.

  3. Teneka Steed

    Thanks for sharing your fear for public speaking and how you overcame it by practicing for your webinar! I too have the same fears that pop in my head when I have to speak in public. I will use the tips you provided to craft my next public speaking event!

    • Selena Soo

      Excellent Teneka! It’s all about getting the right help + giving it your all.

      I’m so happy we talked today and I can already tell how committed you are to your business. I’m look forward to staying updated on your progress. =)

  4. She Dares

    I loved reading this. Public speaking has been a challenge for me as well. And one of my action steps is to force myself to do it. I commit to speaking opportunities, which forces me to prepare. I love the approach that you and Danielle LaPorte take, and that has given me a whole new way to not only look at my public speaking but my business in general.
    Ready to put in the hours,

    • Selena Soo

      Yes! You just have to force yourself to do it sometimes. =)

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the article Danielle!

  5. Yasmine Khater

    Absolutely love this! I feel the same way! When I first gave my first public speak, I was so nervous, I just looked at the audience couldnt say anything, but with time, it got easier, and last year I did my first tedx talk, i still spoke at times soo fast out of fear but its alot better than what i used to be

  6. Andrea Anderson

    Are there actions you could take that would make your success inevitable?

    Yes. Begin to reach out to two people a day. These are people that when I think about them a nervousness comes into my body and thoughts. It’s time to go outside my comfort zone. If I want my biz to reach more people and have a bigger impact- I need to take bigger steps.

    Thanks Selena for revealing all of the effort you put into your webinar. It’s great to be reminded that hard work DOES pay off!



    • Selena Soo

      Nice! That is a great action to take. You’ll definitely build your network that way!

Selena Soo