3 Steps To Hack Your Fear Of Public Speaking


There’s a story in psychology circles about a man who was deathly afraid of riding in a car.

He had been to a number of psychiatrists and no one could find a way to help.

They tried probing with powerful questions, digging into his past, looking for reasons why the phobia was there, recommending books, psychotherapy — the whole lot.

Until he came to his final psychiatrist.

After sharing his phobia this psychiatrist took him outside and told him to get in his car.

Once inside, the psychiatrist buckled him up, locked the door, and drove.

The patient yelled and screamed in horror.

The psychiatrist continued driving.

All day they drove, until eventually the patient grew exhausted from all the yelling.

Then and only then did the patient have his breakthrough. After 7 hours in a car he had come to see that there was, in fact, nothing to be afraid of.

Voila, he was cured.

I managed to get over my fear of public speaking with a similar approach. Here are the three steps I took to hack my fear of speaking.

Step 1: Decide to get over your fear

Or don’t.

That’s the first question to answer: do I really want to overcome this fear? Why?

If you don’t, then the solution is an easy one: simply avoid situations where you have to speak in public.

Case closed.

But if you do have a strong why for overcoming this fear then make a decision right now to end the struggle.

Like, right now.

Repeat after me:


My answer to this was “because I want to inspire others and speaking is one of the most effective ways to do so.”

Make a decision. This is by far the most important step.

Step 2: Find three speaking opportunities in the next three months

As a patient with a phobia, this is you “getting in the car.”

It’s the only way.

You can worry about being a GOOD public speaker later, right now your goal is to get over the fear.

Many people never start because they’re worried about being good from the get-go. Don’t let that happen to you.

Horse, and then the cart.

There are plenty of ways you can force yourself into public speaking opportunities. Identify three and get them in the calendar.

Here are a few that I used to get going:

  • Sign up with Toastmasters: they’ll get you speaking on day 1
  • Tell everyone at work that you’re looking for speaking opportunities: your boss, your peers, your staff, everyone. Is there a conference coming up? A webinar you could join or create? A team meeting?
  • Raise your hand and ask questions the next time you are in the audience during a presentation
  • Offer to give a toast at the next wedding you attend
  • Give a toast at your next family dinner! Seems silly but it’s easy practice
  • Offer to give a talk to a group of people who would benefit from your expertise or life experience. What are you good at, passionate about, knowledgeable about? Find a group of people who would love to hear from you and offer to give a talk

Step 3: Make AND HOLD eye contact with strangers

This hack won’t show up in any public speaking courses but it has been one of, if not THE, most helpful hack that I’ve used.

Most of our fear of public speaking comes from our fear of being observed by others. Get comfortable with this and you’ll be amazed at how much more comfortable you’ll be up on stage or in a room speaking.

Here’s how it works.

While you are going about your life — walking on the street, taking public transportation, shopping, etc. — smile and make eye contact with others.


Your challenge? Don’t be the first to look away.

You don’t have to be creepy — just smile, make eye contact, and hold until they look away.

The best part about this hack is that you can do it whenever and wherever you’d like.

And who knows, you may get some smiles back.

In sum, getting over your fear of speaking doesn’t take long. The hardest part is the first step: deciding to end the struggle. From there it’s all about locking yourself in the car until you’re through the proverbial tunnel.

I have found that public speaking can truly be life changing. It opens up new ways to reach people, to inspire others, and to share your messages with the world.

Stand up.


The world is waiting to listen.

By Ryan Paugh

Hi there!

With decades spent exploring the outer world and the inner world, I share some of the insights I have learned along the way.

Topics include mindfulness, spirituality, growth, perspective, and career.

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