My History With The Fear Of Public Speaking
Today I talk about my long, hard relationship with speaking in front of people.
Okay. So this episode we're going to talk about my wrestling with the fear of public speaking for my whole life. And in the next episode, we're gonna talk about how I cured it. So I'll say that, uh, I just gave a talk at full-stack at UW. I just literally got back off the plane last night and it went really well, and I wasn't scared at all.
And. It was just like kind of a milestone for me. It went, the talk went really well. I delivered it smoothly. I was not nervous for the days leading up. The months leading up, the weeks leading up, I was a little bit nervous the day before and a little bit nervous the morning of, but I don't know if that will ever go away.
Um, like I had breakfast that morning and I was the first speaker. So that kind of. Demonstrates my level of anxiety, like I could eat and I mingled with people and just hung out and whatever. I was very comfortable and I, I think I did really well and I, I don't know, it was everything I wanted it to be.
And for me it was a milestone in my career or my self, my life, myself as a person, self thing. I don't know, it was just, it was a milestone. It felt really good and I want to talk about it so. This episode, we're going to talk about, uh, my history with public speaking, so maybe you can identify with some of the things that I've gone through.
And then next episode, like I said, we'll talk about how I cured it. Duh, duh, duh. So the history, my first experience, public speaking, I was probably six years old and I was in a play and a little Catholic school. Called, uh, the Velveteen rabbit. You probably familiar and I was the doctor and I was supposed to deliver a line and I, this was all, this is like early memory stuff, you know, those really foggy early life memories.
This is in that bank. And the only reason that I remember it is because it was traumatizing. I had one line to deliver. I practiced it a ton. And. Uh, when it came time for me to deliver it, I stared out into the audience and I totally blanked. And I was a deer in the headlights. And after a little bit I realized, I have to say something or I'm ruining this play.
So I said, it's funny, I still remember the exact words. I said, uh, when we get to the hospital, they'll know what to do. Which was just some words I pulled out in my back pocket. I think it made sense and I actually think I patched up the job pretty well for however old I was, but I don't know.
It's pretty much it's scarred me. And, uh, it was the worst case scenario. Um, fast forward freshman year of high school, I was giving a presentation to the, uh, to my classmates. I was intimidated by them. I was new to the school, didn't have a ton of friends, and. Head to get this like book presentation.
I was very nervous and when I got up, this is, this is the, this is the thing. Everybody fears my tongue went completely dry. My mouth was so dry. Oh my gosh. I will almost like would gag on my, my mouth. Like there was no moisture. I was shaking. Uh, my hands was shaking, my foot was shaking, and I started to get like tunnel vision.
Like it was just the worst thing in the world. It was mortifying. And I was standing there knowing this was happening to me, thinking everybody is, is witnessing me. Crumble, like literally crumble and they're going to, they're going to hate me. They're, you know, all this stuff is just mortifying.
So that happened. I lived, you know, nobody hated me. It was fine. But. Still, it was your worst fear. Um, so I, I'd given other little speeches, well, not speeches, but I had done all the little things like for church, maybe like a, uh, reading or maybe even some little sermon, stuff like that.
Um, so I did a, uh, the reading stuff, I would breathe heavily in between words. Like I would be so nervous and I would read and I would know that like, Oh my gosh, like I have to take a fricking breath between every word. Because I, I'm nervous, you know, and I, everybody can hear that and I hated that and I would like choke on a word.
Sometimes, you know, when that happens, when and you just like, like, or halfway through a word, your throat just like goes and you have to say it again and I don't know, and everybody knows it, whatever. So not a good history with it. Always very afraid of it, and always the same feeling. This is the feeling.
I always agree to these things because I think I'm generally like an opportunist or something. I don't know. I just like, I like challenges, so if somebody says, Hey, you want to, I'd be like, yes, I'll do it. But then immediately after there's the regret and the nerves leading up to the event and you're just so darn like you just want more than anything.
To like, take this cup from me, you know, like please, I do not want to do this. But unfortunately, most speaking engagement type things are things you have to do, like things that it's a super duper Dick move to bail out of. Like if you agreed to do something, they're counting on you and you get more nervous.
The closer it gets, which means the harder it is to, you know, call in sick and have somebody else like cover for you or whatever. But. Anything like that, man. And you're just passing the burden off to someone else when you do that. So it's this weird thing where like, you know, you have to do it and you know you're going to do it, and it's a mountain that you have to climb and then you just want, you want more than anything for it to be over right now.
You wanna snap your fingers and it'll be over. Pain and suffering, and then when it's over, you feel great and you feel like, Oh, I could do that again every time. But then it's rinse, repeat this. Every time it's rinse, repeat. It's like dry, dry, dry, dry, dread. Oh, it didn't go so bad. Well, I have some experiences that it did go so bad, but.
For the most part it goes, all right, and then you're inspired. You're like, Oh yeah, I concrete that do wouldn't do it again. Someone else asks you in enough times past, you forgot the pain and you agree to it again and rinse, repeat. That's, that's my story is just fearing the public speaking, dreading it, doing it, it going all right to pretty, it going bad to, well, I've had all the experiences in between and then being like, yep, sign me up again when enough times past and just rinse, repeat.
And I kinda thought that this'll never go away. And there was a snippet one time or something where Jeffrey Wade talks about his, uh, relationship to public speaking, giving lyric on talks. And he talked about how he gets super nervous before him. And I was like, that's so good to hear that somebody who's given these talks before does really well.
Dreads them and gets like super nervous every time and then experiences the same cycle. Like that really helped me a lot. Um, so anyway, I, I also was like a worship leader guy at a summer camp, um, because I don't know, I played guitar my whole life and saying, so it's just kinda natural. They fit you into that, so that, you know, cause you're the guy, you know, and I really enjoyed it.
And, um. So from a pretty early age, probably, I don't know, middle school and high school maybe, like what, what do you does that, let's say 15 years old? I was probably bleeding worship every weekend, but early on I would get just as nervous as. Just as nervous as the, as the speaking stuff. But I did it so much that, you know, like, uh, it's my grain of sand version of the Beatles.
How they, you know, got really good cause they played in pubs like everyday, all day. Um, so for me it was like. I did it so much that I got really comfortable with it, but there was one tactic that really helped me a ton, and I think this is a, a precursor to how I'm, how I'm good with public speaking now, how I'm not scared of it anymore.
Um, I realized that, okay, if I sit in a chair on a stool, I can play guitar and sit on stool. Most people don't, but I can do that and it won't look too weird and I can close my eyes because you know, you're leading worship. Everybody thinks like, Oh, he's so into it. But really I could close my eyes and just get in my cocoon.
And so if I could close my eyes and sit on a stool, I would be in my comfort zone. I would make the experience comfortable for me and that I could do it in front of anybody. And that was true. Like it scaled. It really did. Like I could lead worship in front of tons and tons of people and I got to that point and I still am at that point.
Um, if I needed to do it today, I haven't done in awhile, but I'm sure I could just pick up a guitar, go in front of a lot of people and play a song and it would be fine. Um, so I got to that point that was really good. But those, that experience didn't translate to public speaking. Anytime I had to public speak.
It's like, well, the guitar thing. You hit the play button and just go like, I like playing. I get into it. So it just works. But the speaking thing, like, man, it's just, it's focused like it's people staring at you and you're talking like it's seems way more zoomed in or, or personal or close or whatever.
Uh, so, you know, even after being really comfortable on stage playing guitar and whatnot. Um, I, uh, where am I after being really comfortable on stage, I, I had to do a couple speaking things. Like I spoke to the parents of camp counselors once, and I did like a sermon once on a weekend or something.
Um, and I was mortified for those. It was the same thing. Mortified. And they went pretty good, but I was so nervous. And, yeah, so, and then with the lyric on stuff and with Uh, like, uh, some code conferences I want. I knew that's what I wanted to do. I knew from when I started getting into this and watching other people's talks, I knew that it was in my, my path was to be a conference speaker and I just, I sort of knew that I had to do it, but I was putting it off.
So I made a plan and I was like, okay. This was, I don't know, three or four years ago. I was like, all right, next year I'll give a talk at a small time conference. I'll do a meet up talk, then I'll do it small commerce doc, then I'll apply for Laracon and it all got expedited because somebody called me a mammoth machooga.
He was like, Hey, we need to speak up for every day code. We only have two weeks. Can you do it? And you know, I was like. Hell yeah. Put me in. And it actually was kind of great because I only suffered for two weeks, but I suffered, definitely suffered and gave the talk and whatever. Um, so yeah, I'll talk about that.
That's kind of my history with public speaking, just to kind of demonstrate, I dunno how much I hate it and have hated it my whole life and it just scares the shit out of me and it probably does you too. So hopefully you can relate to that. And now we'll talk about how I cured my fear and how that's not like that anymore.