Public speaking is just a by-product!

This is going to sound strange.
Sometimes I think I don’t really teach public speaking. It feels that I teach people to not be afraid of who they really are – and public speaking is just a by-product of this process.
The fear of public speaking, in a way, is a reflection of our negative thoughts about ourselves and the chaos within. Public speaking can dramatically magnify that inner chaos of course.
But often people have been avoiding not just public speaking events but avoiding meetings, not going for promotion, not singing or dancing in case they get noticed and not doing the things they want to do because the fear of being seen. And the fear of not being good enough.
“My overly self critical nature, self doubt and lack of confidence is the nub of my problem with being the centre of attention,” wrote one participant who had a very senior role.
What this can mean is that we stop ourselves. We lead quiet lives. That is fine if you want to lead that life. But maybe you don’t but you are still letting fear win. Life is short and life will pass us by unless we learn not to be afraid of who we really are.  (I was reminded of the shortness of life only this year when my appendix burst in May. Without the wonderful help from the NHS I would have not been writing this blog)
Another participant wrote to me about her regrets about not living her life to the full
“I want to step fully into my shoes, I’ve had them for years – but I’ve never put them on.

If we learn that it is fundamentally ok to be you. We can learn that we can take our place or space in the world.
Oh, and by the way, you may have also learnt some public speaking as you go!

Our time here is magic! It's the only space you have to realize whatever it is that is beautiful, whatever is true, whatever is great, whatever is potential, whatever is rare, whatever is unique, in. It's the only space.
Ben Okri