Most of us are familiar with the Biblical story of the shy Moses and his destiny to become the spokesperson for his people and their reluctant leader. When faced with the demand by the Almighty to confront the Egyptian king to extract freedom for the Jews in slavery, he replied: “Why me? I cannot speak well!”
The background story is that as a child, Moses burned his mouth, developed a lisp, and suffered from a social anxiety that made him extremely quiet and withdrawn. He probably thought he was the only one on the planet who suffered from the heart pounding, sweat inducing dread of public speaking. Many people today run away from public speaking and leadership roles because of the same social anxiety that plagued Moses.
Despite his shyness, however, it was ultimately Moses himself who found the inner courage to say aloud the words of the Almighty not only to the Egyptian king but to inspire thousands of ancient Hebrews throughout their journey to the land of Israel after their exodus. He overcame his fear of public speaking and his own limitations to become one of the most important and often quoted men in history.
You may not have to go head-to-head with an Egyptian king anytime soon, but your words and ideas – and you – deserve the opportunity to be heard, and you can do it.
In modern times we have options not available to Moses including anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs that can help cases where social anxiety and public speaking phobias are interfering with an individual’s life. There are speech therapists, psychotherapists, professional speaking coaches and classes that can provide guidance. I encourage you to find an approach that calms your nerves and bolsters your spirit such as massage, a run, long walk, yoga, music, shopping or other diversions.
*Excerpted from Public Speaking for the Genius by Anne B. Freedman, coming soon. Save 25% with your pre-publication order now! Just click here.
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