4 steps to combat your fears and move forward

This month our board member Bernadette Cullen shares her insights on the ability to push through fear.

Have you ever wanted to do something but a fear was holding you back? More often than we know, the fear of failure has resisted us from doing something or moving forward.

According to many studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking, and so was mine. The idea of public speaking made me feel nervous, I instantly developed butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms crippled by the fear of saying the wrong thing and being embarrassed. Worst of all I was worried being judged, looking silly and all of this made me an anxious wreck! In short, I lacked the strategic know how and confidence.

And this was not only a personal challenge. At work I would be called to speak in meetings, present ideas and work to my peers and sometimes pitch clients as an ongoing part of my role. It was both, a personal and professional struggle.

This year, driven by my own ambition to be a better speaker, build my confidence, self-improve and combat my fears I have followed these steps with exciting results.


Step 1 – Push Yourself

I made the decision that I needed to learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable! Great things don’t come easy and that I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone. Meet new people, try new things, take up courses to combat my fear! So I found a Network to join and became a board member of the Digital Women’s Network

Step 2 – Stack your “tool box”

I know that I wanted to combat this fear but I needed to learn a few techniques and tips in order to overcome my public speaking fear.  

I had the fortunate opportunity to attend the training event “Presenting with confidence” by Sandy McDonald in April this year hosted by the Digital Women’s Network.  The training was an 8 hour course where I learnt the art of storytelling by utilising personal stories and the concept of “story collection” with 14 other women. It was a safe and inviting atmosphere where every single woman who was in the room helped and supported each other.  Sandy is so kind and personally invested with every single attendee’s growth and development of confidence.  

Later this year the Digital Women’s Network will be running other training courses on “Pitch and engage” and “Present with Panache” these extraordinary people -Jon Yeo and Sandy McDonald will be passing their techniques, strategies and skills of public speaking wisdom.

Step 3 – Be Kind to Yourself

I’ve learnt through my new found skills and Network to Stop listening to the “voice of doubt” in my head that is telling me that you can’t do it. I know this is easier said than done but it really has helped to set me free!

A trick that helps me is to change the narrative and instead of thinking in a negative sense, say it as though you are talking to your best friend or loved one. I’ve also taken stock daily of the things I’ve done that have made me proud of how far I’ve come.

Step 4 – Practice!

This is an obvious tip but it can be overlooked the most. Use the mirror, video record yourself, get a friend to help. Stop trying to create a “perfect” presentation instead give it a go. Memorise the story tell it over and over spend time focused on engaging with others to deliver the content.

This is a key component of Sandy’s training course as a large portion of the day is learning on how to present with clarity and practicing in front of the group.

Keep pushing yourself!

If you truly want to learn how to improve your public speaking skills and develop your confidence, I highly recommend that you attend the next training event! The training has helped me professionally and has been recognised by my senior management team and to really put my new found skills to the test I signed up to an animator open mic comedy night!

Yes just a few short months after gaining my new strategies and skills I completed my childhood dream of doing stand-up comedy to over 100 people in July!

I got many claps and was so ecstatic to achieve my goal!

If you have any questions, please reach out to me here at Digital Women’s Network via [email protected]



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