The Fetal Position

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Fear of public speaking is real. I was training six executives at a major oil company in New Jersey a decade and a half ago. And I've started out the presentation training as I typically do. People stand up, I asked them to say a few words about themselves. I point the camera on them, we record it, look at it, figure out what we like, and where to go from there. To the first person.

He spoke, second person, she spoke third person. He spoke fourth person, woman stood up. All of a sudden, she collapsed to the floor. She started crying. She was in fetal position. And she just said over and over.

I can't do this. I can't I'm too scared. I'm too scared. It was a sad moment. It was sort of embarrassing for everyone involved. And I'm sad to say she didn't recover that day.

She sat in the corner and watched She is someone who had had a very successful career up to that point. And she was successful after that point. But she didn't give a lot of presentation. She didn't advance to the level of CEO and I don't think she necessarily wanted to. My point is, and if you've feeling really scared of public speaking, you're in good company. A lot of successful people are scared of public speaking.

A lot of people are scared of giving presentations. And when you factor that with the fear of being on camera, knowing that it's captured, anyone can see it in theory at any point. It's even scarier. So this whole fear of public speaking Israel, it's not just something that's uniquely in your little mind. It is a very real concern. I wish I could have done more to help her at that time when I was doing trainings, people are not used to recording themselves in advance with their cell phones with iPhones with iPads.

These days typically I asked someone to practice recording themselves a dozen two dozen times in practice before they ever stepped foot in a training with me, but there was not that technology available then. And I'll never forget how she just was on the floor fetal position. Cry, something I think of and some of you think it was really easy just standing up and speaking is difficult for a lot of people. So we all need some compassion for our colleagues. There. Let's face there, some people so afraid of public speaking, they won't even sign up for an online course like this.

The whole idea of even looking at someone encouraging them to speak is a scary thing. Okay, so why do I tell that story? I do want people to realize that fear of public speaking is out there. It is a real thing. So many people come to me. They not might not be the point where they're in fetal position crying, but they still feel incredibly nervous about public speaking.

So when they hear a story about a senior executive at a major oil company who has that kind of reaction, it makes them feel better. It makes them feel like okay, I'm not alone. I'm not uniquely weird or strange about this. So that's why I tell this story. And sometimes I use a story on pre training conference calls a couple of weeks before an actual training to motivate people to actually practice in advance because nobody wants to cry, and curl up in a fetal position in front of five or six colleagues. And it's a great tool to motivate people to do their homework in advance.

That's primarily where I use this story.

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