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The Day I Overcame My Biggest Fear

What is it time for you to stop being afraid of? As an example, I figured out in tenth grade that I had a knack for public speaking—but it wasn’t until last Saturday (when I gave my best speech ever) that I made the conscious decision to stop being afraid of public speaking.

Special thanks to Rady Children's Hospital Auxiliary for inviting me to be your keynote speaker. Thank you even more for all you do for kids and families.

Giving a speech is the fun part (believe it or not)

It's an incredible feeling to stand before an audience, get the audience involved, see them laugh and take notes, and watch the meeting planner's objectives come alive. And of course mingle with the group afterward and sign books.

What's hard is all the work it takes to make a speech look effortless. But like anything else challenging and worthwhile, once you accept the challenge and consciously commit, the work becomes less daunting. And with repeat practice, success comes much more easily.

The same Ultimate Reminders that worked for me can work wonders for you as well—whether you're giving a speech, giving a toast (see video below), interviewing for a job, or taking on some other task where the stakes are high.

5 Ultimate Reminders to Turn Fear Into Confidence

  1. Start with a list. What will success look like, and what are all the steps you'll need to get there? Getting it all out in front of you drives home the point that the list is finite. I would rather use a free app like Wunderlist than stare at my own (chicken-scratch) handwriting. It's also nice being able to move items around easily and share the list with others.
  2. Anticipate the obstacles. For example, you don't want to get to a job interview and have to ask to borrow a pen—or apologize for not having extra copies of your resume. Whenever I'm giving a presentation, I put all my slides and handouts on a thumb drive. I also email the files to myself, just in case. And you never go wrong by bringing your own water.
  3. Take more breaks. Sometimes your brain just needs a rest. Use those times to prepare for your event in other ways—setting out your clothes, for example, or doing a drive-by of the location so you're not stressing out at the last minute. The day before my speech last Saturday, I filled the gas tank, got a car wash, and did a drive-by. All three helped me feel less nervous.
  4. Plan to show up early. For a test or job interview, maybe ten minutes early. For a speech? Plan on a good hour. You'll need that time to settle in, set up the room, and handle any last-minute changes.
  5. Practice more than what seems necessary. Don’t worry about sounding “canned.” More people fail for lack of preparation than for too much.

Finally, take good notes on what life teaches you—especially after an important event. This is one of the surest ways to reinforce good habits, turn snafus into success, and keep your confidence levels moving ever higher.

P.S. Heartfelt thanks to all who sent kind words, prayers, and well wishes after last week's Pep Talk. By Memorial Day, healing will be well underway. Thank you for being part of my tribe—and allowing me to be part of yours.

Once you accept a challenge and consciously commit, the work becomes less daunting.

Gina DeLapa

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Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at UltimateReminders.com/mondaymorningpeptalk.