Afraid of My Own Voice

Plymouth Library Book Reading, 2007

Plymouth, NC Library Book Reading, 2007

I have never liked the sound of my voice. Maybe that’s why I turned to writing. To me I sound too whiny and I sometimes mumble or slur my words. I really don’t think I sound very intelligent in person.

But on paper, I can be who I really am inside. On paper, I can show the true confidence and conviction I feel. I don’t flinch at using big words. And I don’t worry about the doubters. They had better believe me … until I open my mouth.

At the root of this confusing situation is my fear of rejection. One of my worst high school memories involves speaking in public. I had written a glowing speech but I could not deliver it. Fear of speaking my heart in front of a group of my peers and teachers crippled me, scarred me for life.

Other speaking opportunities would present themselves in the years that followed. Many were work related. Others were connected with promoting my books. With each one I was reminded of that terrible day in high school when I stood speechless, sweating bullets, gaping like a fish out of water, ready to throw up.

Not too long ago, I was asked to speak in front of a group of 80 or so church ladies. My first response was to cower behind my fear and refuse the invitation. But God nudged a ‘yes’ from me. I spoke for 45 minutes from my well-practiced speech, only deviating from my written words a handful of times.

As I spoke, I felt comfortable and terrified at the same time. But over the years, I learned to never deviate from the script, to not compare myself to others, and to stop listening to sound of my voice. Instead, I strive to listen only to the sound of the sincerity in my heart.

Confidence comes only as I extend myself, trusting God to do the real communicating.

How about you? How are you conquering your fears of public speaking?

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