Over the past several years, my feelings on this topic have evolved. I spent over 23 years of my adult life being terrified of Public Speaking such that it put my career into a deep freeze. I overwhelmed myself with the fear of looking incompetent, being laughed at, and looking pathetic. I would almost pass out at the thought of standing in front of a group even though I seemed to excel in one-on-one communication.
After years of study, practice, and a determined mindset to “harness” this fear, I succeeded in harnessing the fear even to the point of writing a book on the findings of my research and teaching others to improve their public speaking skills.
My feelings now (knowledgeable of The Francis Effect) are that most of my fear was based on an overwhelming amount of self-consciousness and selfishness. I was so self-absorbed, my own feelings of fear were more important than any useful information I could share with others, thus stopping me before I got started. The price was many years of lower pay, less help to others, and wasted time of friends enduring my private proclamations that I knew better than the brave people in front of the group.
If you can get the mindset that your message is more important than how you look, then, the fear will not debilitate you as it gives way to courage resulting in valuable information you will share with others.
Focus on your message and the audience, not yourself.