My mother is an elegant French woman. She taught me how to dress well, and in particular to avoid wearing clashing colors. So wearing clothes that clash makes me feel uncomfortable. I feel like I’ve got a neon sign on my forehead flashing “Look at me, and judge my choice of clothes.”

It’s not unlike the feeling that I used to have when standing in front of an audience and delivering a presentation “Look at me, and judge my ability to present.”

And it turns out that you can use this similarity between the feelings to become more comfortable about public speaking.

That’s because underlying the fear of public speaking is the fear of being judged and disapproved of. So if you want to get more comfortable with public speaking?, expose yourself to the fear of being judged and disapproved of in other contexts.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

So take an action every day that will trigger your fear of disapproval. Here are examples of actions you could take:

Ask for someone’s name when you’ve forgotten
Wear your jacket inside out
Say “Hello” to everyone you meet as you walk along the street
When you’re in a line (queue) talk to the person next to you
Ask for help at work
Say no when someone asks you to do something that doesn’t sit right with you
Put a less than flattering photo on social media

Take these actions on a regular basis and over time your level of discomfort will decrease. And so will your fear of public speaking. You’ll have become more comfortable with discomfort.

I call this process of taking actions every day the Disapproval Immunization Process. You can do this process on your own, or if you’re a woman and you’d like coaching, support and accountability, you can join the next Stairway to Confidence program.

Here’s what previous participants have said about taking these actions.

“The biggest learning for me was that deliberately engaging in small challenges every day has a cumulative and beneficial effect on overall confidence.” Margaret O’Brien

“Doing those actions everyday did make such a huge difference. It’s such a simple concept, but it works really well.” Marie Waldron

The next Stairway to Confidence program starts on 9th July. It’s a program for women who are fed up with being held back by their fear of public speaking and want to become more confident speaking up in meetings, presenting to groups and recording video. To learn more and to watch videos of the women who completed the previous program click here.

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