THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Egyptian blogger jailed for criticising Islam | Breaking News | News | Telegraph
The women who went through an ordeal beyond belief | the Daily Mail

What is your fear, and how have you overcome it?

(by our Guest Author today - Ellee Seymour)

I love words.  I love reading them, writing them, understanding them and delving into their origins. But when it comes to speaking them - well in public at least - I find that words fail me. Or rather I fail them.

It’s a strange and unwelcome feeling. I must be insane to admit that I would rather face the pain of childbirth any day than speak in front of an audience. I have some horrid past experiences to justify this; times when my body became tense and rigid, my throat as dry as cardboard and my voice shaking like a ragmop.

I have no idea how this fear originated. One expert questioned whether it was because I am the third of four children, and then there is the possibility that I may have inherited this fear from my father who was a very shy man.

I know I am not alone, I believe it is the biggest fear that people have. It’s rather like listening to a quiz show such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire when you know the answer to the £64,000 question while the contestant is desperately struggling to come up with the answer– it’s only easy if you know it.

Likewise for public speaking. While Jeremy thrives under the spotlight, and I have a husband who finds it as easy as knotting his tie, give me a pool of alligators to swim with instead, it’s a far less terrifying challenge.

Well that’s certainly how things were until last year when I decided to be more in control and I did two things – I had hypnotherapy with Mark from Winning Minds and joined Cambridge Speakers Club.

Since then, I am delighted to say there has been a slow, but marked, transformation, the difference in my speaking skills is very apparent. Most importantly, I can feel the difference, I am more confident. The racing pulse and nervous rash has lessened considerably.

I made my fourth speech at my Speakers Club this week entitled “Lord Nelson, My Hero”. For the first time I felt that I was able to control my nervousness and my wavering voice. I paused after paragraphs and the words pleasantly flowed off the tip of my tongue like never before. And I was able to make eye contact with the audience for the first time, I even smiled and looked as if I was enjoying it. I had excellent feedback from the audience too, it was almost thrilling. And best of all, the audience said they couldn’t believe I had ever been a nervous speaker, it was music to my ears.

I know I still need to work on my body language, the use of my arms, deciding how and where to stand, but I also know that comes with practice– and Rome wasn’t built in a day!

I also had a fear of spiders which I have conquered after attending a special course at London Zoo as a journalistic assignment for work.


Just as well because I think spiders are becoming even bigger each year, the huge ones won’t fit into my spider catcher.  I still prefer to keep them at arms length if their breadth exceeds the size of a dinner plate!

Just to prove how brave I was, you can see the photo of me holding a giant tarantula in the palm of my hand  taken at the end of the day. Now if I can do this, then I can surely learn how the skills of public speaking.

So tell me, what is your fear, is there a difficulty in your life which you are also trying to overcome? Is public speaking a problem for you too?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Hi Elle, sounds like you've gota sharp mind and could probably write a press release or a novel at the drop of a hat.
But have you tried reading aloud
I mean considering how easy it is for those who surround you your husband and some of those MEPs, and if you've had hypnotherapy with Mark from Winning Minds and joined Cambridge Speakers Club, there's probably little I can add.
But I'm guessing whilst you have no problem writing speaches and reports, or socialising and making small talk - you rarely if ever read aloud what you write.
Yep, just read an article out aloud (in full) from the daily paper to your husband, your work colleagues or whoever your immediate audience may be.
Pick short ones so as not to 'bore' them, but then ocassionally pick a longer one and read it out aloud to yourself (in front of a mirror if you like) say 5-10 minutes long.
Remember once you've broken the ice, thw words like water start to flow, after the first few words on the first page, you could and talk a whole bookfull.


John, My time and energy is limited like everyone else's, that's why I'm trying to reduce my blogging at weekends.

I enjoyed reading your experience, and James' too, I do feel I am making progress, and that I need to practice as much as possible.

Incidentally, my husband had a fear of flying and I took him to Heathrow for a course which helped him tremendously.


...Now if I can do this, then I can surely learn how the skills of public speaking...

The two are not necessarily connected, m'lady but if you feel they are and it helps your speaking - great.

This is one of my jobs here - getting people talking and it's an art overcoming that nervousness. I don't know how many speeches I've made and I still feel nervous before it.

One recent speech I wasn't nervous at all and it turned out a dud.

John East

You are cropping up everywhere at the moment. Where do you get the time and energy?

Back to the topic in hand - The first thing that I thought of when I read the title of this piece was public speaking.

I overcame my lengthy terror by diving in at the deep end (actually I was pushed). My company sent me to the USA for 2 weeks to do up to two presentations per day. After this experience I realised that no matter how terrified one feels it usually doesn't show, and that most audiences will lap up anything you say as long as it isn't overtly stupid.

After this experience I never looked back.


Dearime, Actually, listening is a skill that few people have too, you are absolutely right.


Just kidding. Keep it up, lass.


Public listening.

The comments to this entry are closed.