Speaking of the Fear of Speaking

Jan 13, 2015 | 5 comments

Reading From Dear MedoraI woke up this morning (as in was startled into full consciousness) with an email asking me to speak at a local organization’s annual meeting in February. Immediately, my palms began to get moist and my mouth dry. I really don’t like public speaking but there is something deeply ingrained in me that feels I should say ‘yes’ unless there is an over-riding reason otherwise. The calendar was blank; I said yes.

So, now I’m trying to analyze why such commitments make me so nervous. It’s not that I have nothing to say, as I’m sure my long-suffering husband would be the first to tell you. And I’m pretty sure that if my subject interests me, it will likely interest other people. So, what’s the big deal?

Basic Insecurity. That’s all I can come up with. That and the fact that in recent videos I’ve seen of myself, I don’t like what I see. Too many “uhs,” “ummms,” and “ohs.” Too many instances of closed eyes while I’m talking. (What is that, anyway? Am I thinking? Trying to blot out my audience? What? It’s not something I do consciously, for sure.)

Sydney as Mother StevensMaybe I need to join the Toastmasters. Their website offers to help you become a “confident public speaker and a strong leader.” It goes on to say you’ll find a supportive “learn-by-doing environment,” which, in my case, is a bit of a red flag in itself. According to their website there is a club in Ilwaco and another in Astoria. Hmmm. It bears thinking about.

I think, though, getting over fear of public speaking might be right up there with getting over the fear of flying. In that case, the recommendation is… to fly! That’s never really worked for me. The more I fly, the more my heart palpitates. But still, I do it. It’s that ingrained thing; that voice that says “Get over yourself.”

So, I’ll be at the Annual Meeting of the Pacific County Historical Society in Naselle on February 15th. My subject – something historical, of course.


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    Anyone privileged to hear you speak know that you are a wonderful story teller who exudes confidence. How many times have I seen it written that great actors and actresses suffered from “stage fright” to the point of being ill just before turning in a stellar performance? And I’m a Boeing Brat who grew up thinking that airplanes are the best thing since…well, sliced bread…and I loath flying, but I credit that with being crammed in like a sardine.

  2. Ann Rosé

    Read by Susan Cain on her quest to overcome her fear of public speaking.

  3. Ann Rosé

    That’s “Quiet” by Susan Cain.

    • sydney

      Thanks, I’ll take a look.


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