Thank the good Lord for growth, y’all. Last week I hit a milestone of overcoming my fear of public speaking. You should know that I didn’t even realize I had this fear until I tackled it head-on. I have always considered myself to be pretty comfortable in conversation with others. However, I’ve historically found it challenging to address large groups or people I don’t yet know personally. I was never afraid of school presentations or speeches, but rarely – if ever – did they come easily to me.
Fast-forward to this past January when I started a job in higher education that challenged any prior shyness I had. I quickly found myself with the option to either crumble beneath any self-doubt or insecurity I was carrying, or press into the challenge and grow from it. I chose the second option and it has changed me for the better!
Every day at work, I speak to dozens of people I’ve never met before. I have the opportunity to establish dynamic interactions with them and spur them on to do what they want most in life. It’s a rather high-volume position in a large University. This sometimes makes me feel like I blend into the sea of cubicles. Compounded with the fact that most of my job is done over the phone, this level of ‘blending in’ could easily lead to complacency if it weren’t for the dynamic company culture. It is impossible to go unnoticed here for a job well done.
Even though I dream of having my own creative business in the future, I know that I have been placed here in this season for a reason. As a result, I come to work every day and try to pour my heart into the work I do and the people I serve. “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23)
Earlier this month, I was both blessed and surprised to be recognized for the work I’ve been doing. Our leadership team was touched by a particular student story that I’d had the privilege to be part of this spring. For that reason, I was asked to speak at our quarterly awards ceremony last week. We had the choice to opt out if we were uncomfortable speaking in front of large groups. I hesitated to say yes when I realized I would be speaking to 200 people. However, I decided to be brave and go for it because growth rarely happens within our comfort zone.
As I prepared to share my student’s story with my department, I struggled with how I would deliver my message. I toyed with the idea of writing it out and referencing note cards throughout the delivery. In considering that, I realized it might have diluted my message and made it seem flat.
In a moment of unexpected courage, I decided to speak from my heart instead. I applied a prior tip I had stored away in high school to move around and be dynamic during my presentation. Rather than speak into the stationary mic at the podium, I held it and stood comfortably beside it instead. Y’all, while it was a little scary at first, the words flowed so naturally as I continued! By the end of my presentation, I felt comfortable, confident, and wholly genuine in the words I’d spoken.
Moral of the story: be brave. Anytime you are presented with an opportunity to stretch your comfort zone and grow, go for it! These are the very experiences that mature, shape, grow, and develop us. Believe in yourself, take a deep breath, and try!
Do you have a fear of public speaking? Share an opportunity you might take to overcome it below!