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Terrified of speaking in public
Reviewed in the United States on July 7, 2016
I was terrified... I mean seriously *terrified* to speak in front of people. When *imagining* getting up in front of a group of people, my heart would start pounding in my chest. My entire body would literally tremble. It would feel like I had something caught in my throat.
And that was just from imagining myself speaking in front of people.
Well, every two weeks, the company I work for holds this company-wide meeting. People get up and talk about things like what they've been working on, results, etc. And for over three years I've avoided going up there. Are you kidding? Speak in front of the entire company? Um... No thank you. Not happening.
Don't get me wrong. I *wanted* to get up there and speak. I had a lot that I wanted to say. And speaking to the company was important for my career. In fact, I really wanted to overcome my fear of public speaking because I knew that, if I could just get over this fear and develop the confidence to comfortably speak in front of audiences, I could take my career so much further. It would open up a whole new world of opportunity for me. I could speak at conferences, make a name for myself in the industry, etc.
But I just didn't have the courage. I felt like if I even just spoke in front of a small group at work I would only manage to humiliate myself, end up hurting my career, and feel even worse about myself than I already did.
So, I looked for help. Originally, I looked at The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook. I read it. But for some reason, it didn't really help me to work up the courage to put myself out there. Maybe because the book felt too cold and "clinical". Maybe because, as I would later discover, it failed to address some critical elements of my social anxiety.
Anyway, somehow, I found Dr. Aziz. Here was a guy who'd done it; a guy who'd suffered from debilitating social anxiety, just like me, and overcome it.
Like The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook, Dr. Aziz teaches that you need to go out there and begin to do those things that terrify you, starting small, getting comfortable with things that only give you a small amount of anxiety, and progressively working your way up until, for example, you're comfortable speaking in front of perhaps even thousands of people.
However, there are two things that differentiate Dr. Aziz's method from The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook. First of all, Dr. Aziz teaches several principles that seem to be entirely absent from CBT; things like self-compassion and becoming comfortable with rejection. Secondly, it feels like there's a human being on the other end who actually cares. And this was surprisingly important to me; to feel like I wasn't alone in this.
Anyway, I've been applying Dr. Aziz's method. And here's the proof that his method works. A couple weeks ago, I volunteered to speak in front of the entire company at the company-wide bi-weekly meeting. Now, normally this is just an internal meeting. But literally the day before the meeting, they came up to me and said that they wanted me to prepare what I was going to say in such a way that they could *film it* and *distribute it* to existing and potential clients.
Seriously? As if just speaking in front of the company wasn't stressful enough for me! Now you're going to record me speaking in front of the entire company AND you want to send the recording of me out to literally thousands of people!
Well, the next morning, they called me down to speak. And... well... I knocked it out of the park. I felt way more comfortable and relaxed than I could have ever hoped. And when I'd finished, the son of the founder of the company was so moved that he yelled, "Boom!"
I'm not gonna lie. It felt really good to have faced that fear and to have overcome it. Now, I guess it's on to the next level for me.