Do you have a fear of public speaking? I do. (Yikes!) Even though I am a writer and reporter and have spent plenty of time on stage as a singer and many years center stage as a teacher, I am still carrying around the fear of public speaking. Ridiculous, right? Maybe not. (Statistics show that the fear of public speaking ranks up there with the fear of death for the majority of people, and for some, even higher.)
The problem however is that this fear has pretty much been eating me up inside lately.
Last night I attended a speed-networking event at Falcon in Hollywood hosted by SMARTY, a women's entrepreneurial group based in Los Angeles. As you would imagine at an event like this, we had to present ourselves and what we do to a group of women. This kind of public speaking isn't too painful for me, but it is still challenging. (Will they get me? Was I clear enough? Did I present my work in the best way? Is this really what I wanted to say?) I know, it sounds ridiculous to second-guess oneself like this, but it's my truth.
The kind of public speaking that challenges me in more of a major way is the thought of speaking to larger groups of women, speaking on camera, and speaking on a live radio show. So if it challenges me so much, why do it?
"By not sharing your message and your accomplishments, you are withholding information that could uplift and inspire others," said Tracey Trottenberg, leadership and communications strategist and trainer, in a recent interview with me. Tracey, who is also the founder of Amazing Women International and an international speaker, added that by not stepping forward as a leader, you are actually holding others back.
This became perfectly clear to me at the SMARTY event as I listened to two outstanding women, Lauren Parsekian and Molly Stroud, use their voices to talk about the mission they are on. They have started what is called the Kind Campaign. It is a movement to bring awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of abuse in the "Girl World." They have filmed a documentary and are traveling the U.S. on their campaign to take a stand against girl-on-girl crime and create dialogue so that it is no longer considered normal for girls to physically and emotionally abuse one another.
In response to this movement, girls around the country are pledging to be kinder to each other, are making apologies, are changing their behavior, and are healing deep wounds. The movement is growing every day. If Lauren and Molly had decided to just sit in a room and talk about this problem of girl-on-girl crime with one another, and not take the step to share their deep conviction that this social epidemic can be changed, many girls would still be wounding each other with words, thoughts, and fists.
"One of the greatest attributes of being a feminine leader is being courageous and being vulnerable. That's what authenticity is. I've watched miracles happen over and over when women step into that place," said Tracey Trottenberg in a recent interview with me.
There is no doubt that it takes courage to step on a stage in your business, in your career, or in your life and say, "This is my vision, and this is what I believe." (What might others say? What will they think? Will they believe me? Or will they walk the other way?)
As I drove home from a walk in Palisades Park this afternoon, and my throat was feeling constricted and my chest tight as I labored over my own difficulty at finding the courage get my own message out, a quote from Anais Nin flooded in: "And the day came when the risk to stay tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
That day was today.