Is it ok to be scared?
First of all, the answer is YES.
When we think of “overcoming fear” or that the fear of speaking might prevent a speaker from accomplishing a goal, fear is labeled as negative. In this context, fear is rarely thought of as positive, however I argue that fear has amazing positive potential. It is the speakers with the greatest fear that have the greatest potential to be enthusiastic, engaging, and inspiring.
How is this possible? Fear is energy directed by the negative thoughts of the speaker. It takes an amazing amount of energy to feel fear, especially in the case where speakers suffer anxiety to the extent that they feel physical effects including sweating, rapid heart rate, or blushing. The root of this fear starts with the first thought the speaker has about delivering a speech. I can’t do it, or What if I my voice shakes or my face turns red? What if my boss notices my nerves and loses confidence in me? At the extreme end, fear can cause a speaker to avoid promotion or other positive life experiences.
The concept that fear can be “flipped” simply recognizes that energy can be redirected from negative into positive. Simply, this starts again with the thoughts of the speaker. Fear begins to “flip” when the speaker first thinks about a speech and feels the familiar anxiety building. Instead of having negative thoughts at this point, the speaker frames the energy as positive. Thoughts such as I CAN do this and I am so excited to share my experiences with the audience, or I am so well prepared, I just KNOW it is going to go well creates energy that feels more like positive excitement than like negative fear.
The key then to why the most nervous speakers have the greatest potential to become effective speakers: when nervous speakers re-frame negative energy into positive, they have a huge amount of energy for enthusiasm, engagement, inspiration, and simply entertainment of the audience. High energy speakers are always more engaging than low energy speakers and therefore the more nervous speaker has an amazing potential energy to work with.
Bottom line: speaking can be exciting and fun and the more nervous a speaker is to start, the more they have to look forward to after flipping the fear!