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I'm Scared to Speak—and You Should Be Too
Why you should appreciate & celebrate your fear of speaking
This publication is going to focus on public speaking as vehicle for human connection, authentic influence, and professional growth.
It’s for anyone who wants to pursue the skill of speaking as a career, or as a competency within their professional life.
To briefly introduce myself, I’m a secret introvert who for some strange reason has spent pretty much his entire life in front of audiences.
I’ve been making money from performing since I was twelve in commercials and live theater, and in the last 60 years I’ve never put money in my bank account that came from a non-performance based job. There have been many iterations of my performance career, the “professional speaker” phase has only been the last 15 years or so of that journey.
Today I regularly present to Fortune 100 & 500 companies, national corporate brands, associations, and high-level leadership teams across North America.
Organizations hire me because I provide a completely unique presentation— blending entertainment, improv theater, and organizational development content into a highly memorable experience with a clear message.
My keynotes are almost always customized to the client, and focus on a range of themes—especially communication, innovation, teamwork, productivity, accountability, leadership, and vision.
Understandably, it sometimes surprises people when I say I’m scared to speak.
If I were to ask you what’s the hardest part of speaking in public, ninety-nine percent of you are going to say, “the fear.”
We’ve all heard about these polls and studies where people rank speaking in public as their greatest fear, even over the fear of death.
But the problem isn’t that most of us harbor a fear of speaking.
The problem is that we jump to the conclusion that because it’s scary—it shouldn’t be done.
We assume that the presence of fear when we consider speaking is a sign that we’re not a good candidate for being in front of a crowd—when in fact, it’s exactly the opposite.
It’s the people who are afraid to speak that have the most valuable things to say.
I’m frequently afraid to speak to people, whether it’s in front of a corporate audience, with friends, in a zoom session, and sometimes even at home.
But that’s because it’s important to me to say things that are true, important, and honest.
We should all be a little bit afraid to speak.
It’s a sign that we’re about to serve the evolution of our species.
Fear—and the willingness to speak anyway—is the secret weapon of what has turned into an incredibly fulfilling career for me. A dream job that pays me extremely well, funds my travel to beautiful destinations, and leaves me with a lot of free time to pursue creative projects, spend time with family, nurture friendships, and invest in my growth and well-being.
Today, my annual income from speaking puts me in the top 10% of professional speakers.
But I was nearly 50 years old before I started speaking.
As I mentioned, I’ve pretty much spent my whole life on stage, but I was silent for most of it.
My first performing work took place as a clown and silent mime.
Later I became a silent street performer, making a living for many years as a physical comedian from donations in my hat.
I got discovered on the street by an executive from General Electric Corp, which spun into gigs for years afterward, delivering more silent comedy to corporate audiences.
It was only when the economy crashed in 2009 that I got up the nerve to market myself as a speaker for corporate events, having the audacity to charge clients for my services when I had no professional speaking training or credentials.
What I discovered is that speaking when you’re afraid is how fear becomes an advantage instead of an obstacle in human communication.
Fear is the ground of authenticity, vulnerability, and truth.
Fear is the secret driver of my speaking success.
And that’s the purpose of Pivot to the Podium.
To help you turn your fear into an ally when you have the opportunity to share words with an audience of any size.
If you’re not already subscribed, I hope you’ll sign up now so you can join me in this celebration of speaking as an adventurous, joyful challenge that the world needs more humans to accept.
I have the best job in the world, and if you feel called, I’d love to help you influence, inspire, and serve others from the front of the room too.
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