Overcoming my fear of speaking & microphones
Like all things that I create, they come from crazy brain ideas that pop into my head at random times or in my dreams. This story of creation was made to face my fears.
In early 2018 I wanted to reach a new audience after seeing Gary Vaynerchuk at a conference, he demonstrated the power of audio, blogs were no longer a thing, and long-form writing was no longer a thing. People preferred podcasts. In Australia at the time podcasting was still slowly becoming popular and I a former travel and food blogger now turned life coach wanted to pivot my business to help people but in a way that was more accessible.
The issue I faced was that I was terrified of microphones, so starting my own podcast was the most scariest thing I could ever do.
Plus I had a million and one reasons why podcasting wasn't for me. I had spent the last ten years perfecting how to write the best blog posts, newspaper articles, magazine features and pitches to get published. Was I going to throw that all away for audio? I tried playing with audio and my brain did not want to learn something new, it was too hard. I hated it. The sound of my voice, well, (my inner leo rising thought it wasn't too bad) however when it was amplified and you heard it back like an echo it was just weird.
Through high school I did music and had the opportunity to play with microphones, however, I didn't really feel the need to be the lead in the band. Even though it was my dream to be the front girl. That mic held all my power. The thought of everyone hearing me, and being judged for my performance was enough to hold me back. I was more worried about what people thought of me than letting my voice be heard.
Those who know me well, know that I'm a pretty outspoken Aussie. Blunt in fact. Yet, I didn't start off like that, I've worked for years on overcoming that I had something to contribute to society and that my voice mattered. When I was writing I used words to tell my stories. Before that, I would ramble drunkenly at parties dramatising every single detail with all the hand gestures and such.
There have been a few life-defining moments for me when it comes to voice.
1 - As a Child - I was quiet (yes, it's hard to believe I know) I played the role of the good girl, I was an undiagnosed highly functioning autistic who blurted out truth bombs with big emotions. I was highly sensitive and the thought of doing anything wrong was not in my vocabulary. My truth and opinions were often laughed at, they were prompted by people in order to harm others they branded me as the black sheep of the family. I didn't speak often but when I did it felt like I didn't matter. I was a joke, I delivered what everyone else was thinking (but wasn't saying) and totally weird. Now to be fair I had a great childhood, this is nothing to do with poor living situations. I was a kid growing up in the 80's with a mental health condition and no one knew any better. What I learned at a very young age was to hold my tongue, well the best I could.
2 - As a Twenty Year Old - I attended a party where someone told me that my stories were too much. It was like I was competing with everyone else and that everyone found it annoying and I should stop doing it. Because apparently, I should have nothing to prove. This moment blew me out of the water. I had spent the last six years of my life establishing my newfound freedom as a girl who didn't live at home, who travelled the world, talked to people and was living her best life. And this, well it made me think that yep, I can be a bad drunk who makes everything all about them. But that young girl had finally found a voice and was comfortable sharing it. That night, I declared I wouldn't drink again and to be honest I haven't really been that drunk since and now hardly drink in case I'm a bad drunk. I stopped telling stories of past experiences and started writing about food and travel instead. This allowed me to write my experiences and hit publish and not bother anyone ever again with my all too much ness.
3 - As a Thirty Year Old - 2018 was the year I started a podcast! EEK
Here I was fumbling through life, totally dumbfounded that I didn't have a story. Because stories sell and me as a business/brand. I had nothing. The podcast was going to be my way to talk with others about their story but also get over my fear of using a microphone. It was a win-win in my book. During the 111 episodes I grew confident behind the microphone, interviewing people came naturally, I had helped to make the magic each week and I freakin loved doing it.
In the first ten episodes, you can hear in my voice that it's shaky out of fear. That little girl is scared to be judged, laughed at or even criticised.
With practice and sheer determination, I got over my microphone hump. I was eventually able to record solo episodes and it felt good. I had the pleasure of interviewing some fantastic guests from award winning authors to 7-figure business owners. It was nuts. What I loved the most was the intimacy that it created for me and another human to go deep into the human experience. This I loved and this is why I am now planning the next podcast I will be creating.
How I Overcame My Fear of Speaking
1 - I acknowledged it. I knew I was scared of microphones and for no good reason at all, just that they make my voice sound so much louder (my sensitive autistic ears hated that) or with a delay (which muddled my mind). The fact that I fully understood that I hated talking out loud and in a very visible way was uncomfortable.
2 - Change was needed. I knew that in order to stretch myself that I needed to challenge my thinking by doing. The one thing that I needed to do was talk into a microphone, to get over that fear. It wasn't easy, I faffed about for months before this even happened.
3 - Don't doubt what you know. I spent about six months trying to validate the idea of starting my first podcast because I was scared. I was nervous and didn't know if it would work, would anyone listen to it or worse would hate it. Then it was all about what should I talk about bla bla. This cycle of crazy slowed me down. Self-doubt crippled my confidence but each day I kept waking up with a vision of me talking to people. No microphones just talking. I knew that I had to do this.
4 - Let passion guide your determination. As awkward as it was, I recorded those very first episodes, shaking in my kids teepee on the floor with people I admired as my very first guests. I was so bloody pumped afterwards I felt great until I had to do it again. Months it took for me to relax into the role of podcast host. Two years went on and I loved leaning into my mic and going deep with guests. My passion was learning from other people's stories, that is why i use to tell stories in the first place. Plus I had this crazy dream that one day I was going to be the next Gabby Bernstein (famous author and speaker if you don't know who she is)
5 - Practice makes perfect. I kept going, there were episodes that didn't make the cut due to the quality, there were episodes where the tech was my arch-nemesis there were fuck-ups and studders and plenty of eye rolls. However, I stuck it out. This one practice, over two years, made me comfortable being behind the microphone. I would never have gotten to that place unless I pushed myself to do it. Because I wanted to do it.
Overcoming any fear is about tackling it head on, this might be baby steps in the right direction or big leaps. We all need to face things in our own way. There is discomfort there, that is for sure but with practice things become easier. I hope that this wee post has helped you to take one step towards overcoming a fear that you might hold.
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