Two years ago, I still had a 30 year-long extreme fear of public speaking and I would never, ever consider doing a talk in public.
However, in March 2015 I spoke to around 300 people at the Promaxbda Berlin conference. In September 2016, I spoke at Reasons to on the Brighton Dome stage to 750 people and then to a further 200 people at PechaKucha during London Design Week. So what happened?
First, let’s go way back, to the 80’s.
It was during my teens that I cultivated my fear of speaking in public. Although I was a sociable young person, I didn’t like the spotlight being shined on me. Very quickly a schoolroom ‘discomfort’ turned into an art college ‘stress’ during my four years of design training and the many times I had to present in front of my peers.
Along the way I noticed there was a magic number – 5. If I had to speak in front of more than 5 people, my adrenaline would start pumping, my hands would get sweaty, my throat would dry up, my mind would scramble and the quietest of voices would nervously squeak out. And that’s if I was lucky. If I wasn’t lucky, I’d just freeze.
Throughout my career, both when I worked at the BBC and when I ran my own design company, this fear plagued me and dictated a lot of my behaviour.