It’s Not About You

Jan 24, 2019

By Marion Grobb Finkelstein

When you give presentations, does your stomach do a flip flop? As you prepare to meet one-to-one with a high-level client or senior executive do your palms get sweaty? Does it feel like there are the butterflies in your stomach doing somersaults? If so, you're not alone. In fact, dealing with the fear of public speaking is the problem people ask me about most frequently.

A lot of people get nervous when speaking to others, whether it's one-to-one or to the masses. This is a serious issue, because if the jitters get the best of us they can jeopardize our effectiveness in connecting with our colleagues, clients, bosses, and employees.

Calm down: focus on your audience, not yourself
So, how do you get over your fear of public speaking? It’s simple: focus on the needs of your audience. Remember: you have a message it needs to hear. Each one of us has some information or some expertise that can benefit someone else. What's yours?

Ask yourself: What information or knowledge do I have that can help someone else (who?) do his or her job better, faster, cheaper, easier?
Come from a place of service
First, let me explain what I mean by “service.” I'm saying “come from a place of service”—not servitude. You're not someone's servant. You are choosing to apply your skills to help others. You are committing to a motivation bigger than just yourself. You are making a difference in someone else's life because you deem that person worthy and because you know you can help. You choose to serve and you do so willingly.

Here's the reality: we all have limited energy, so you must spend yours wisely. Focus on getting to know the people with whom you communicate. Think about your boss. Determine his or her top priorities and figure out how you can support them. Maybe your colleagues need help on a project. If you have the expertise to make a difference, why not offer it and lend your support? Or perhaps you’re trying to connect with a client. Ask her some targeted questions so you can figure out how to match your expertise to her challenges so you can find viable solutions.

Using your communication skills to ask the right questions and provide the right answers will help you to connect with others. Again, base your actions on how you can be of service to others.
So tell those butterflies in your stomach to fly somewhere else. By taking the time to concentrate on your audience rather than yourself and by determining to willingly come from a place of service, you’ll overcome your fear and nervousness. Find out what the people in your audience need and how you can provide it to them and you’ll soon be speaking with confidence, clarity, and purpose.

Communication is really about knowing how we can serve others. Add to that knowing yourself and your own strengths, and that's an unbeatable combination. It provides the foundation for great communications because it puts the focus on your audience, not you. And that type of attitude is what gets results.

© 2011 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

About the Author(s)

Marion Grobb Finkelstein is a communication expert, author, and professional speaker. She works with individuals and organizations across Canada and beyond, helping them increase morale, confidence, and productivity by changing the way they communicate. Sign up for “Marion's Communication Tips” at or contact .