Are You Afraid of Public Speaking?

I know why people hate public speaking.

Statistics say that 75% of us dread it – some even more than death. 

I found out when my pastor asked me to teach adult Bible study lessons. Anxiety gripped me instantly. 

“I’ll think about it,” I said. And then I went home and cried.

What he didn’t know was that I stutter. Years of round-robin reading and oral reports cemented my fear of others’ reactions. My mouth forms the words, but the sounds frequently stick in my throat. It was mortifying to hear the giggles around me growing up. I became adept at avoiding public speaking – even into adulthood.

What my pastor also didn’t know was that I’d made a private promise to myself years earlier. I’d vowed to speak about God if ever asked. Oh, but how I wrestled with fear when the opportunity presented itself.

A few weeks later, I found myself standing in a room full of adults clapping. I had just delivered my first lesson. Tears streamed down my face – this time in gratitude.

I learned an amazing lesson that day:

People are right. Public speaking is like a death.

For me, it was a death to the image I’d always tried to present to the world. 

Rather than try to hide behind false bravado, I openly shared with the class that I’m a stutterer. I let them know that I was nervous. 

It was also a death to my fear of judgment. My desire to share my love for God outweighed my fear of what others might think.  

At the core, it was a death to self. I realized it wasn’t about me.

Public speaking is ruthless in that way. It kills the parts of us that don’t belong.

But from that death springs life.

When I stopped trying to protect myself, that’s when I could truly serve others.

It’s been six years since my pastor approached me, and I’ve taught countless adult Bible study lessons. Every few weeks, I cherish the opportunity to stand up and present what I’ve learned about God’s Word. 

Preparing to teach a lesson on a Sunday morning.

I continue to be humbled and refined through public speaking. It’s given me the courage to accept invitations to speak outside the church. I’ve enjoyed leading business groups and presenting on book publishing and marketing.

If you’re an author hesitating to speak about your book topic, know this:

You don’t have to speak publicly. There are many other ways to promote your book that leverage other strengths. You can write a blog, post on social media, win book awards, collect reader reviews, or run Amazon ad campaigns.

If you’re willing to consider speaking, then here’s what you can expect:

Public speaking demands vulnerability. 

It may even feel like a death. 

But there’s profound freedom on the other side. In time, you’ll change and grow to impact the world around you in new ways. 

Kudos to the latest author to step up to public speaking: Bill Herrington shared compelling research from his U.S. energy book, The Green Real Deal, at a recent National Oil Equipment Manufacturers and Delegates Society meeting. 

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