Yes! I had Stage Fear.
When I was in school, I never participated in any debate or competition that required verbal speaking. I was good in studies or can say was one of the brightest student of the batch. Won many badges because I used to get good marks in exams. But I lacked the most important skill: CONFIDENCE. I had visited stage to take Scholar Badges or 100% Attendance certificate, but never went to speak anything.
I had this fear “What will everyone say or think?” OR “What if I make a joke of myself“. I tried to overcome this in my 12th standard by reading some news lines in school assembly on the stage and in front of everyone. I still remember, my legs were shaking. I read those line quickly and came down from stage. I never went up there again.
After school, I went to college for graduation. But this fear came along with me. I became an average student there. I was never a part of any club neither participated in any competition. I tried to overcome this fear (or I should say Stage Fear) and yet again, I failed, for the second time. 😦
It was the last year of my college. We had to participate in something. So I thought of giving a presentation on any random topic. I chose Teleportation. It was an interesting topic and I liked it. I made every preparation and gone through the presentation multiple times. But as soon as I went on to stage, nothing came out of my mouth. I was the person who had to speak first but I was numb. But with God’s grace, my partner started and we both carried the presentation but I was nervous the whole time.
College got over and I was placed in Infosys. I had to enter the corporate world after 4 months. But I had this fear. Fear of stage, fear of public speaking, fear of giving speech and what not. I thought I need to do something about this fear otherwise I will become a laughing stock in front of everyone. I used to think what to do to over this. I cannot be like this for the rest of my life.
Then this idea came to my mind: What is one thing that I like most?
Since childhood, I enjoyed teaching. I always wanted to become a teacher. When I was a kid, I used to pretend to be a teacher and teach imaginary kids.
After graduation, I had 4 months of spare time. I thought of giving classroom training to school/college kids. I interviewed in 2 nearby institutes and was selected in both. But I chose the one where I had full control of my class. I joined it with a minimum wage of Rs. 5000/month. This was year 2010.
I used to make notes of C, C++, Data Structures, PL/SQL etc in morning and take classes in evening. I even studied UNIX commands as it was a requirement of few students. I gathered all my courage and gave my first classroom session. It was a demo session and was successful. Slowly and steadily, number of batches increased from one to 8. I used to give theory sessions in one class and guided other students in their practical class. I was managing two classes at one time. It was hectic but I was enjoying. Students who took classes for basic programming came back for advance classes. I was happy as I overcame my fear. 🙂
I never looked back.
Internet was a luxury at that time and there were no smartphones. I had this Internet connection at my home and a desktop, but the speed was very slow. Plus the content online was very limited at that time. So, I used to borrow novels and books from a public library to enhance my speaking and technical skills. This boosted my confidence in public speaking. I started keeping journal and scribbled my day-to-day activities. This helped me introspect myself and I worked towards my success. By the time I joined Infosys, I was completely changed. I was not the same girl which used to fear of speaking in front of many people. I was full of confidence and was ready to enter the corporate world.
This past training experience helped me in my corporate career and again I gave my classroom session, but to my seniors. That was a successful session and I was awarded with Faculty Award. From that point I made sure that this is where my happiness lies, in giving training, in interacting with people. What was once my weakness, had become my strength now. I no more fear in interacting with people or speak my mind.
I still give training and mentor people. I am now a Microsoft Certified Trainer and can give training officially.
If I can overcome my fear, you can too. You just need some courage and a deep desire to prove yourself. If you don’t get the opportunity, look for one or create one.
This world is full of opportunities, you just need to look.
All the best!