It’s Not About You

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Recently Kevin Price, Host of the nationally syndicated Price of Business Show, welcomed Lori Keesey to provide another commentary in a series.

The Lori Keesey Commentaries

I just learned a new word for an unpleasant sensation I experienced last month… xerostomia, a fancy word for cotton mouth. And no, it didn’t happen because I was imbibing in you-know-what.

It happened because I was speaking at a women’s conference. The topic didn’t stress me, though it forced me to lay bare my sins and regrets. Standing before a gaggle of women, alone and unprotected, caused the parched, sticky sensation.

Quite likely, you’ve experienced the same thing, along with the nausea, the heart palpitations, the dread… all caused by the fear of public speaking.

Join the club. You aren’t alone.

Glossophobia—a highfalutin word for the horror of public speaking—is quite common. In fact, some experts claim that 70 percent of the population experiences some form of anxiety when standing and speaking before a group of people.


Why Do You Quake in our Boots?


So why do you suppose that is?

Here’s an interesting theory, hypothesized in an article by speaking coach Sarah Gershman. She said the fear traces back to prehistoric times when humans perceived watching eyes as existential threats, predators looking for dinner, lunch, or breakfast. Even a mid-meal snack.

When this happened, the amygdala—the part of the brain that helps humans respond to danger—sounded the alarm and triggered anxiety and the fight-or-flight reaction in prehistoric people.

Sarah’s article went on to say that the human brain has transferred the primeval fear to public speaking. We literally perceive the audience as an enemy and react to the threat physically…the upset stomach, the shaking hands, the increased heart rates.

We want to hide.


Pour Into Others


I wasn’t aware of this theory when I shared my fears with another conference speaker a few hours before taking the podium that day.

If you don’t experience butterflies, you might not be taking your responsibility seriously enough, she told me, as attendees gathered in the adjacent room. Stop thinking about yourself because it’s not about you. She lifted her hand and pointed to the ceiling.

It’s about God. Your job is to pour into others.


Same Advice, But From a Secular View


I didn’t fully appreciate the wisdom of this woman’s words until days later when I sat down to write this commentary and discovered Sarah’s article. Both were saying the same thing just from a different point of view.

Both were talking about generosity.

“Studies have shown that an increase in generosity leads to a decrease in amygdala activity,” Sarah wrote in her article. “Showing kindness and generosity to others have been shown to activate the vagus nerve.” (Yes, another fancy word…this one for a body part that calms the fight-or-flight response.)

“When we are kind to others, we feel calmer and less stressed. The same principle applies in public speaking. When we approach speaking with a spirit of generosity, we counteract the sensation of being under attack and start to feel less nervous.”

Her advice?

“Remind yourself that you are here to help your audience. Be firm with your brain. Tell yourself, ‘Brain, this presentation is not about me. It is about helping my audience.’”


Wisdom for All Things

If I ever get the chance to speak before a group again, I will remind myself that it isn’t about me. It’s about pouring into others. Being generous. Showing kindness.

Can you imagine our world if we held those attitudes close to our hearts? They apply to far more than public speaking.


Author/Blogger Lori Keesey discovered her passion for writing at age six, when she wrote and illustrated a very short story about three puppies lost in a hatbox. Her first-grade teacher loved it and encouraged her to continue writing.


Many years later, the study of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird rekindled her interest. So captivated by Harper’s young protagonist, Scout, Lori wanted to create characters just as engaging as this spunky little girl. Years passed—and hundreds, if not thousands, of novels were read—before Lori realized her goal. Her debut novel, The Difference He Made, is scheduled to release in late 2023.


Lori writes a weekly blog—“The Accidental Blogger”—that spotlights men and women who overcome adversity and  has authored two short stories, “Robert’s Prayer” and “The Note.” Both stories and a host of other gifts are free to those who subscribe to her monthly letter.


To subscribe and learn more about Lori, go to


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