Stepping into the spotlight… what a thought… especially if you suffer from the fear of public speaking.

Fear of public speaking is a common and deeply ingrained fear that many of us have experienced at some point in our lives. The thought of standing in front of a crowd, feeling vulnerable, and delivering a speech can be paralyzing.

So today, I want to share my journey of overcoming this fear and offer encouragement to those who still find themselves trembling at the mere thought of public speaking. You have the power to step into the spotlight and embrace your voice. Let’s conquer this fear together.

The fear of public speaking often stems from the fear of judgment and criticism. We worry about stumbling over our words, forgetting what to say, or making a fool of ourselves. But here’s the truth: everyone makes mistakes, and audiences are more forgiving and supportive than we give them credit for.

Growing up in a small town in the North of England, I didn’t have a lavish upbringing. We had money for food, clothes, the occasional treat of a day out to the beach… but we when compared to other kids in my classes at school, my lifestyle wasn’t in their league.

This combined with a parent and step-parent that were constantly arguing, who frequently berated each other or themselves. I was literally raised with the belief that only ‘rich’ people achieved anything in life – that only ‘rich’ people had a voice, an opinion, had style, had value.

Can you see the foundations of low self-esteem being constructed and reinforced in my formative years? I would shy away from any social interaction, I would sit shyly in the corner of a classroom and make myself as invisible to the teacher as possible, so that I wouldn’t be called upon to answer any questions and thus be placed in the ‘spotlight’ of the attention of the class.

This spanned many years, until I noticed a frustration within me. I realised that I DID know the answer to many of the teachers questions in class. I was often as good as, or better than, other classmates during sports and physical activities.

I had a eureka moment in a classroom one day, when a question was asked by the teacher… the classroom fell silent. No one raised their hand to answer, the teacher’s eyes scanned the room and they landed on me. Suddenly, there it was, my face bright red, my heart beating through my chest, my sweat glands instantly releasing an ocean…. but I knew the answer.

Gathering every ounce of courage I’d accumulated across my entire lifespan, I spoke up… silence… for what seemed like 5 minutes but would probably have been 5 seconds… and then a casual “correct, well done Richard” from the teacher, before she moved onto the next question.

In that moment, I felt the entire world was watching me, waiting for me to fail, wanting me to fail, ready to laugh at me for failing… but I didn’t fail. And my achievement went almost unnoticed. I’d built up an assumption about speaking up that simply wasn’t true.

Over the next few years, I rapidly eradicated this fear of speaking in public, so much so that it eventuated in me regularly being placed in spotlight positions during school and college. Drama festival lead positions, sports teams representing the school regionally, school choir, debate clubs, school prefect position, class assembly lead pupil… I simply wasn’t afraid of attention anymore.

This continued through school, college and into my career. Not only within the educational and professional arena, but also within personal interactions I found myself speaking up, stepping into action, becoming thirsty for knowledge, hungry for new skills and eager to discover more information about everyone else around me.

As more years passed (hey! I’m not that old) I looked back on how I adjusted my own thoughts in order to ‘cope’ and succeed when in the spotlight. Here are 3 of those simple techniques that I used…


Preparation is key when it comes to overcoming the fear of public speaking. Take the time to practice your speech or presentation, familiarize yourself with the content, or rehearse the interaction in front of a mirror or with a trusted friend. As you become more comfortable with the content, your confidence will grow, and the fear will gradually subside. Remember, the more you practice, the more prepared and polished you’ll feel.


Another effective strategy is to re-frame your mindset around public speaking. Instead of viewing it as a daunting task, consider it as an opportunity for personal growth and self-expression. Think about the impact your words can have on others, the knowledge you can share, or the inspiration you can ignite. Embrace the power of your voice and the unique perspective you bring to the stage.


Don’t underestimate the power of visualization and positive affirmations. Take a moment before your presentation to close your eyes, take deep breaths, and visualize yourself delivering your speech with confidence and grace. Repeat positive affirmations such as “I am prepared,” “I am capable,” and “I have valuable insights to share.” These techniques can help calm your nerves and enhance your self-belief.

Stepping into the spotlight and conquering the fear of public speaking is a journey, not an overnight transformation. It takes practice, perseverance, and a willingness to embrace vulnerability. But trust me when I say that the rewards are worth it.

Each time you face your fear and speak up, you grow stronger, more confident, and more empowered. So, take that leap, believe in yourself, and let your voice be heard. The world is waiting for your unique message.