Ask Sophia: How Do I Get Over My Fear Of Public Speaking?
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Ask Sophia: How Do I Get Over My Fear Of Public Speaking?

Does the mere thought of public speaking make you want to cry under the covers? We’ve got you.

That’s right, the latest “Ask Sophia” advice column has landed. This month, the founder and CEO of the media company whose product you’re currently consuming offers her insights on how to pump yourself up before a presentation and muster the nerve to look for a new job. She also explains how to put yourself forward for more responsibility when you’re being underestimated at work.

Read on to see the questions you all submitted this month, and remember to ask Sophia your own burning questions RIGHT HERE.

My body goes into a panic at the thought of having to speak up in meetings (or any form of public speaking) and I feel like it’s starting to hold me back in my career. Do you have any advice on how to go from a nervous wreck to a confident, calm, and compelling speaker?

It starts with body language. Go read Amy Cuddy’s book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges and watch her Ted talk. How you show up becomes who you are. After that, I might seek out a psychiatrist, counselor, or coach to talk through this with. Anxiety is a real affliction, and something I’ve struggled with for my entire life. Groups are scary! Believe it or not, I’m terrified every time I speak publicly. I can only give a 10-minute talk onstage and it’s the scariest thing I do. I’d like to say that the meek will inherit the earth, but if you look at this earth, it doesn’t seem to be that way. Now go yell into a pillow and make some calls!

I’ve been in my current role for nearly four years and I’m ready for a change. My current employer has treated me OK, but I don’t really owe them anything. Somehow, I still feel extremely disloyal even looking at other jobs. I did this in my last job too, and ended up staying in a role that I should have left years before. How do I get over this feeling of guilt?

I think this starts with: what’s the risk of staying? Your life is yours, not anyone else’s, and this is not a relationship, a friendship, or an emotional choice. You deserve—and must remember that you deserve—what you’re worth and what you want. Take the risk of taking leaps, and remember that you also take a risk by staying in a role when you’re not engaged. It lowers the morale of the company and allows you to perform below your ability. Go, go, go. Take the life you want and remember that you’ll disappoint people along the way.

What would be your advice to get noticed as a writer in small company? My team leader isn’t interested in giving me important projects; he thinks I’m shallow because I worked at retail stores before. I am frustrated AF!

I would start by sitting with your manager and telling them you’re ready for more responsibility, despite the fact that your resume doesn’t reflect the work you’re currently doing. I’d also ask what you can do to take on more or advance in the company or as a writer. It also sounds like it’s time to show your worth outside of the company. Start writing on Medium, freelancing for credible publications, and eventually your manager will see that you’re worth something. Assume that everyone else is too busy to manage your career, and be sure to ask for what you want and self-advocate when you feel it’s needed. Best of luck!