Once upon a time, I didn\u2019t know which was more terrifying: Having to stand in front of a crowd, or having a crowd stare at me, waiting for me to speak. But either way, those were horrifying moments that got me trembling from head to toe. Yet surprisingly, those moments were now in the past. And now, I want to share my story on how I overcame my fear of public speaking as a lifelong introvert. I grew up being an introvert Source: Jaz Pereira I shy away from conversation with people, I dislike being among a crowd and prefer to be alone. And mostly, I dislike being in the limelight, having people stare at me. Back when I was a teenager, I had an ultimate fear of public speaking. I would have the whole list of symptoms: stuttering when I speak, hands trembling beyond my control, cold sweats, queasiness in my tummy, heart pumping hard, and panic attacks \u2014 to the point I black out or forget the things I\u2019m supposed to say. Yet despite that, I kept trying out public speaking in primary and secondary school to overcome my fear. I entered a public speaking contest when I was 7 and 14. However, due to my fear overpowering me, I lost. Me Participating in a 2001 Public Speaking Contest. Source: Jaz Pereira I volunteered to be the presenter during a group presentation for every class with the assignment, but I didn\u2019t succeed in attaining the desired scores for my team. Undaunted, I began to rely on writing scripts for presentations on flashcards, and this helped my team to win 3rd place during the 2011 Sentul District e-PPDa contest. That was back when I was 17 years old. Winning that contest boosted my confidence in Public Speaking. I thought I had finally overcome my fear of it. Things Changed In University Sadly, my confidence took a downfall when I was a university student back in 2012. I felt so insecure about the fact that my peers were excellent in Public Speaking. And they didn\u2019t even need flashcards! I, on the other hand, still relied on flashcards, until I was told to put it away by lecturers. Reason being that I need to learn to speak confidently in front of an audience, maintain eye contact and not rely fully on flashcards. It took a toll during most of my group presentation. After almost every presentation, my evaluation as an individual was constantly among the lowest. I gave up on public speaking altogether. If there was a chance to avoid doing a presentation, I took it without hesitation. I thought to myself that it was never going to be a necessary skill in my career. My presumptions were wrong. My Director Gave Me An Impossible Challenge In 2016, I joined a hotel as part of the Human Resources Department to complete my final internship before graduation. I believed that this department would be a safe haven as compared to the other departments \u2014 just being at the back office, answering calls, handling staff enquiries, filing of documents, and completing necessary reports. The only announcement I ever needed to do was emailing circular memos to all. Until one day while my team and I were preparing to organize a Deepavali Open House for our associates, my Director called me into her office. I sat down and she went straight to the point, \u201cI want you to be the Emcee for our Deepavali event.\u201d I was shocked and I even started to shake in fear. Anxieties were kicking in slowly. \u201cWhy can\u2019t the others do it?\u201d I asked, trying my luck to escape from this horrifying assignment. My Director then explained to me in a calm and encouraging manner. She told me that she wanted me to take up the opportunity as means to help me grow. I sat silently, uncertain of whether I should do it. She smiled at me and said, \u201cYou\u2019ll be fine. You can have a script prepared and refer to it as much as you want. I believe in you.\u201d And with those words of encouragement, I took up the challenge. My First Large Event\u00a0 Weeks before the event, I prepared the script and practiced my speech in front of a mirror. I even picked out an outfit, according to the theme, to boost up my self-confidence even more. And wouldn\u2019t you know it; the day of the event has arrived. I got dressed, put on some make up, took my script and went up to the ballroom. We were expecting 100 associates to gather in the hall. Sound Test Before the Deepavali Event Commenced. Source: Jaz Pereira My whole body was shivering in fright and my heart was beating so fast it affected the way I breathe. I wanted to call it quits so badly, but I reminded myself that I need this, for me and that I shouldn\u2019t run away from my fear anymore. After I tested the microphone and ran a sound check with the Audio Visual (AV) team, my team gave me one last word of encouragement before I took the stage. And just as my Director was about to give me the queue to start, I drank a sip of water and breathed deeply. Next thing I knew, I was on stage in front of a large crowd and actually speaking. There was no doubt that I did stutter and even trembled at the start of it but I still went through with it with all the courage I had. After about half an hour, I was done and the event was over. I couldn\u2019t believe that I\u2019ve actually done it. My Director came to me with a smile and told me how proud she was of me. It was a great feeling to hear her say that because it really uplifted my confidence in Public Speaking. I Became A Natural Speaker Since then, I became the Emcee for every social gathering organized by our Human Resources Department. I slowly let go of scripts and presented more spontaneously in front of the crowd, only referring to the event itinerary. My Training Manager taught me about \u2018Warm-Up\u2019 sessions that are necessary in every training; it helps to ease the tension between Trainer and participants. She also taught me ways to engage with participants - with jokes in between sharings or by playing games. Undergoing the Train-the-Trainer Assessment in 2018. Source: Jaz Pereira I soon started conducting training sessions on my own. It was during this process that I found my life\u2019s passion in the field of Learning & Development. So I left my job at the HR Department of a Hotel to become a full-blown Training Executive. I\u2019d conduct training sessions for 20 participants at a time. It was like I was a lecturer in a class of adults. In 2019, I upped my game once more \u2014 and I became the emcee for my cousin\u2019s wedding. I cracked jokes on a stage in a hall packed with 200 guests. Who knew I\u2019d get this far in public speaking? If you told 20-year-old me that I\u2019d be speaking fearlessly in front of a packed crowd of hundreds of people, I wouldn\u2019t have believed you. After Succeeding in Being an Emcee at My Cousin\u2019s Wedding. Source: Jaz Pereira Looking back Now in 2020, I\u2019ve achieved my dream \u2014 I\u2019m now a Cluster Assistant Training Manager. Looking back, I never thought it was possible for a lifelong introvert with a severe fear of public speaking to be where I am today. 2016 was indeed a life changing event for me and I have since overcome my fear of public speaking, when I pursue my career in the field of Human Resources and Learning & Development. In a strange way, the things that we fear the most are the things that hold the key to our success. Me Conducting a Training Session. Source: Jaz Pereira To those who are experiencing this, know that you are not alone and that you can overcome your fear, if you set your mind to it. So, here are some tips that could help you overcome your fear in public speaking: \tBreathe. \tWalk around. The entire hall is your stage. Not only will it help you get comfortable, it brings you closer to the audience. \tHold something to disguise your nerves. If your hands tremble, hold something like a marker pen or a clicker. \tKeep your eyes at audience eye level. But direct your focus on something behind them, like the wall. \tJoke around with your audience. Be spontaneous. Don\u2019t panic if they don\u2019t laugh \u2014 Instead playfully disturb them about not laughing. \tUse games to keep the audience energetic. This helps when they aren\u2019t focused or falling asleep. \tPlay music before you begin. It pumps up your energy as a speaker and excites the audience. \tDon\u2019t worry if you mess up. It\u2019s a learning process. Smile and have fun! For more stories like this, read: Surviving Public Humiliation: Getting Up and Moving On and 5 Ways to Overcome Shyness.