Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
FACT—According to The Book of Lists, the fear of public speaking ranks number one in the minds of the majority of people. Far above the fear of death and disease, comes the fear of standing in front of a crowd.
AND—to be a successful author you are encouraged—no urged—to take up public speaking in order to promote those books you spent hours, months, years, decades, writing.
BUT—you do not want to stand on a stage in front of people and talk. It doesn’t matter if there are five people in the audience or 500. “Please,” your quaking heart begs, “anything but that!”
SO—what are you going to do? Let those amazing books that God worked out through your mind and through your fingers to your laptop, just to be buried in the forgotten ranks of obscure books long published?
No way!! Do I hear an “amen”?
Not long ago I was terrified of public speaking. The few times that I had said yes, the events had turned out wonderful, the Lord worked through me to encourage faith in the listeners. My mentors cheered me on to stick with the speaking. Little did they know that for months before those engagements and shortly afterward I would be physically ill.
There were a few things that I did to combat this crippling fear.
- I took the Toastmasters course on Public Speaking. A friend of mine who had earned a university degree in Communications said that she learned more from Toastmasters than she had on any course. Through this course I really learned how to develop a speech and how to look and sound professional. I cannot recommend this organization highly enough.
- Then I started saying yes to those who asked me to speak. I know it’s hard, but once you say yes, you are committed and God will help you through it. He promises that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
- I asked a huge crew of people to pray for me in this, and they were faithful. Nothing was sweeter than having a group of elderly ladies come up to me each week in church and squeeze me in a hug and tell me they were praying for my speaking engagement.
- Now, this is a personal thing, and maybe you won’t need to go the same route as me. I went to my doctor. Thank goodness the Lord gave me a Christian doctor that I could openly talk to about my panic over speaking. As a Christian he understood my spiritual strengths, my physical and emotional weaknesses, and my calling. My doctor prescribed for me a mild antidepressant, because unbeknownst to me I was suffering from panic attacks. This worked for me in the months ahead. Instead of letting my fear of the speaking event build up each day, my medication took the edge off.
- And I practiced my speech, and I practiced, and I practiced. I stood at my kitchen counter when everyone else was out of the house, until I knew that speech backwards and forwards. I even practiced each gesture, walking to my countertop as if it were a stage, and walking off. Even thanking imaginary people who introduced me, etc.
The first few times were hard, I won’t lie to you. But now I get up on the stage and my knees don’t shake. I can smile and laugh, and appear totally at home there, even if for a moment I forget where I am in my speech. I’m going out tonight to speak at a local Christian bookstore for their church librarians’ night. This June I have four speaking events.
It’s been such a joy to hear from the organizers of these events, that after I have spoken, lives have actually been touched for the Lord Jesus Christ. Decisions have been made. When I heard that, a tingle ran down my spine. God did that…through me? Wow!!!!
And, a little side blessing that cannot compare with people following Christ—I actually sold some books. Take heart. Be of great courage.