Public speaking anxiety, I will conquer you

On Fox 5 talking about our big event next month.

Not exactly the most gripping topic — but since public speaking anxiety is as crippling as it is to me, I bet there are others out there as well. In fact, last time I wrote about this (click here), a lot of you jumped out to say hello. And now is a natural time for an update!

Despite my own sometimes devastating public speaking anxiety, I jumped at the change to speak at Vegas’ Meet, Plan, Go. Part of the reason was the company: JoAnna of Kaleidoscopic Wanderings was putting on the event, and Diana of DTravelsRound was going to be my fellow speaker. No one could believe I had agreed to do this, but encouraging people with major interest in travel to get out there and do it? I was game.

Then my worst nightmare happened.

I was the fourth speaker out of four. Number three? The stunning Judy Irving, a professional motivational speaker and life coach. The way she was able to speak to the audience was a sight to behold. Her charming southern twang, the way she paused… Everyone was ready to head straight to the airport to buy the next ticket out of town.

Then, right when she had us, she dove into her own story. Her beloved husband had passed away before they could take their Big Trip. On the slideshow behind her? Photos of her on that trip — with a friend who had survived stage four cancer.

Not a dry eye in the house.

At that moment, I was just grateful to be in the same room with someone so courageous as to share such a personal story about not waiting until such loss, or surviving something life-threatening, to get out there and follow your dreams. I was euphoric.

And then… I heard, “And heeeeeere’s Abby!”

What?

No way. I turned to Judy and said, “I can’t follow that.” She said dryly, “It’s too late for that.”

I somehow got my story out, not even looking at my notes, hands shaking, shoving my public speaking anxiety to the back of mind, trying to make eye contact with some of the audience members, who were all looking up so kindly. I think I got some good points in, about coming back to life and work after time off.

As luck would have it, not long afterwards, I was asked to do a few TV appearances for Vegas magazine‘s annual Vegas Gives charity event. (Read about the eight inspiring women we’re honoring here, including Holly Madison and Emily Jillette, wife of Penn.) 

 

A monitor in the TV station playing our segment.

Yes, LIVE TV.

Again, the nerves got going, my public speaking anxiety kicking into high gear, but this time everything was somewhat in check. My fellow guest? One of our charitable women, the beautiful Vanessa Breitling, who was going to share her powerful story about getting involved with the Pregnancy Foundation after two very difficult pregnancies. She was more nervous than me!

We survived. Aside from almost saying the wrong date, I did fine!

Hot off the press: the new issue of Vegas magazine with X Factor’s Nicole Scherzinger!

One more TV appearance, and then the big event, where I’ll be forced to take the microphone.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… I think I can handle it.

In the green room after filming, with host Rachel Smith. I still look tense!

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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Comments

  1. After years of speaking at conferences, I finally conquered most of my public speaking jitters. But I still have to keep a few Kleenex handy because my nose invariably runs, for some reason!!

  2. Abby if you can speak half as well as you write, I know you’ll be great.
    Just wish I could get LV Fox 5 up here.

  3. You always do such a good job when you have to speak in public. Just remember that!!! 🙂

  4. I have a feeling that you’re really good at this.

  5. Aw thanks, everybody! I can’t believe it’s getting easier… But still not, you know, even approaching comfortable.

    Jan, I can’t believe your nose runs! I just get the shakes…

  6. It’s really hard to get up there and speak! I struggle – if I have it all rehearsed and planned it’s fine but I think the best speakers are those who have the idea of what they want to say, not word for word, and can adapt to the audience. I have a looooooong way to go before I’m that confident. You look great, though! =)

  7. When I was younger I CRAVED the spotlight. I loved debating people and public speaking. As I got older, I started to get more and more shy…not sure that’s the right word…but I HATE the spotlight now with a passion. I’m so proud of you! Way to kick fear in its ass!!!

  8. Oh, Andi, I bet you were such a star! I loved dancing and such on stage — never anything where I had to TALK! I love that you are not a public speaking queen either. That makes me feel so much better.

    Andrea, I, too, rehearse. Everyone says not to, but if muscle memory takes over, words come out despite the shakes. What’s a girl to do!

  9. As if you get nervous public speaking!

  10. I get SO nervous!!! Did you see me ask a single question at TBU?! Haha.

  11. yeah yeah yeah! God I can relate SO MUCH, haha. I hate public speaking. Hate hate hate. But I’ve been forced to do it several times over the past couple of months…and you know what? I survived too! Go me!

  12. It’s so hard to believe that you’re actually nervous in front of groups because you always do an awesome job. You looked great on TV last week. I promise. 🙂

  13. GO US!!

    I hate my nervous smile. So not attractive!! But I’m getting better. 🙂 Thank you, JoAnna, for watching!!

  14. You look so confident and pretty in those TV stills, I’m sure the audience had no idea you were nervous! Congrats to you for being brave and tackling your fear head-on.

  15. I was shaking like a leaf!! And my smile is awful — I can tell when I look nervous. So happy others can’t. 🙂

  16. Abby, I share the same fear as you. It was actually hard for me to conquer my fear of getting up in front of a class of students and teaching several years ago. Although that is certainly gone I would feel extremely nervous giving a speech in front of my peers. It appears you’ve done a remarkable job and if it is anything like teaching then the more you do it the more comfortable you will feel over time.

  17. You looked beautiful and charming 🙂 Relax 🙂

  18. Wow, congrats Abby!!

  19. Well done! I knew you could do it. Your confidence should be way up now that you’ve had some success. Keep us posted on the next event.

  20. Congrats and good luck with the upcoming event!

  21. You look great and totally confident! 😉

  22. Awesome job! I don’t think I will ever get over my fear of public speaking. lol. I bet it’s weird to see yourself on TV.

  23. You must be so proud of yourself 🙂 Speaking in public isn’t easy! Hope the future holds more opportunities like this so you can become one hell of a public speaker too!

  24. Yeah Abby! So glad you did it and that it’s getting easier. When I get nervous when public speaking my throat gets dry and cackles like a witch but I’ve found the more I’ve done the easier it gets. Would love to see you on TV. If you have a link please share it.

  25. Thanks, Laurel! I had to take the microphone this week, and I can’t believe I did fine. I honestly just… can’t believe it.

  26. Good on you for stepping over these thresholds and not let fear stop you.

  27. You look absolutely amazing in your dress. Congrats on getting through it, especially the live tv show.

  28. I don’t dislike public speaking at all but I do still get a serious case of butterflies in the moments before I open my mouth at any event. It can put a damper on things for sure. Still, I know you – and as nervous as you sound like you get – I bet no one can actually tell who doesn’t know you and I bet you rock it every time. You’re a beautiful person inside and out Abby.

  29. I struggled with public speaking for a long, long time. Still do. Good on ya for grabbing the fear bull by the horns!

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