You might NEVER guess it now, but Natalie Workman, the host of the WorkWoman podcast used to be paralyzed by her fear of public speaking. For years she stayed on the sidelines allowing others to take the spotlight while she built her career behind the scenes.
Last year she invited me to her home to talk about private coaching.
As I got situated on the couch, she jumped right in, “Heather, I called you because I have to push through this fear head on.”
I’d known Natalie for years.
She’s kind, confident and damn good at making you feel special when you talked with her. A real knack for moving conversations along by asking good questions (a skill she told me she learned from her mom).
She wanted to play a bigger game personally and professionally and had set big fat SCARY goals.
It wasn’t until this moment that I realized that Natalie’s fear of public speaking was crippling and deeply rooted.
She had an embarrassing experience early in her career when she clammed up and went blank while presenting to an executive team. Since that moment she just didn’t trust that she could articulate her thoughts in a way that truly represented herself.
But she’d been doing a lot of internal work, creating clarity on exactly what she wanted for her future and she knew this would hold her back.
I asked her on a scale of 1 to 10 how important pushing beyond this year was to her.
“Heather, this is my limiting factor for my success. My ability to shake off this fear, show up and actually communicate to people in a way that feels right for me… showing up with my real self, my real personality, and bringing a message that matters… if I can’t get this down, I can’t achieve my goals.”
10 months later, Natalie spoke on the 10X Ladies stage alongside Elena Cardone in Las Vegas.
The road between those two moments in time was big commitment, a lot of practice and the willingness to suck.
The truth is no one whose exceptional at something started that way. Everyone starts as a beginner.
You might not have a dream of speaking on a stage in front of hundreds or thousands of people. Your goals might look more like this:
- to show up with confidence on social media, doing Facebook lives consistently.
- to start becoming a guest on podcasts.
- to show your face more on webinars or
- raise your hand for guest expert spots in memberships or masterminds.
There might be something going on for you where you’re scared, you’re holding back a bit. Maybe that fear is tied, like Natalie, to some experience you’ve had in the past.
Maybe that fear is lingering for you because you run these ‘what if’ scenarios in your head.
- What if you say something and it gets taken the wrong way?
- What if you fumbled on your words?
- What if you completely royally screw up?
- What if the technology breaks?
- What if you can’t figure out the technology?
- What if you run all these scenarios in your head and it paralyzes you from taking action?
Here’s the thing: crap is going to happen.
The stuff’s going to get screwed up and sometimes you’re going to say things that do not sound the way that you intend it.
You learn to roll with it.
I want to encourage you to open yourself up for discomfort in a productive way. This is a time for you to lean into the discomfort for the benefit of your bigger goal.
If leveling up in your business, reaching for bigger things, making a bigger impact with your experience, your knowledge and your heart is something that you’re sitting with right now, I want you to listen to this interview and know this:
On the other side of fear is a lot of discomfort and a lot of scariness, but you learn to swim in the scary.
Take steps to grow your skills because when you start building your competence, your confidence grows
The more your confidence grows, the more you will stretch yourself to further build your competence.
It’s like a beautiful dance between competence and confidence that together dissolves fear.
About Natalie Workman
Natalie Workman is the Vice President of Operations for Cardone Ventures. Cardone Ventures is a management consulting, joint ventures, and private equity firm that helps business owners achieve their personal, professional, and financial goals through the growth of their business.
Her focus is showing business owners how to create a culture that engages employees while ensuring the business’ mission, values and goals come to life.
She has also launched two 7-figure courses on leadership development, team alignment, and business growth.
Check out Natalie’s podcast WorkWoman
Connect with Natalie on Instagram
A few of my favorite interview highlights
On her first public speaking course…
“I came, I got the binder, I got all the information. I wanted to study public speaking. I wanted to read about how to publicly speak. I wanted to take a course on it, but actually having to go up in front of people and do it was a whole other thing.”
Can you talk about where your fear was coming from?
“It came from failure. I made a presentation very early in my career. I bombed said presentation. After that moment I was, ‘Yes, I bombed it. Like I totally bombed it.’.
I was 20 years old and for six years I had various opportunities to speak. I was in a leadership position in the organizations that we worked in, but I refuse to take any one of them because it was such a scarring experience.”
What was the shift for you on making a change?
“This role that I have at Cardone Ventures, for people who haven’t heard of the Cardones, they are pretty big in the social media space. They hold huge conferences. We actually met them at a conference where they had 25,000 people and both the husband and the wife spoke and were articulate and just absolutely captivated myself and my fiance. We partnered with them shortly thereafter and started this business.
You can imagine my fiance is very well spoken as well and does presentations in front of thousands of people. Here I was feeling, if I wasn’t insecure about my own ability to articulate my thoughts already, I’m now next to people who are at the top of their playing field in this space.
There wasn’t a choice. At some point, I was either going to make this life choice to always sit in the shadows and never actually participate or I was going to really lean in, take it seriously, and not cop out of the opportunity that was in front of me just because I didn’t know how to do it and I was scared of it.
That motivation really switched from, okay, I have to get my bearings, I have to get comfortable in smaller arenas in order to be able to say yes to opportunities that are around me, to speak in front of large audiences and do it at a caliber that isn’t just somebody who’s a beginner of somebody who’s an expert at what they’re talking about.
I think that that is something that so many people can relate to. You know that you’re smart, you know that you have skills, you know that you can teach somebody something. But the connection between being able to take those thoughts and articulate them in a compelling way is where there’s a break.
My urge to people is always to just remember that you know how to do these things. It’s just working on that delivery. It’s working on and practicing through those awkward moments where you might’ve said a word wrong.”
How has your confidence grown in the last 12 months?
“I think one of the greatest things that anybody can do is start a podcast, or a blog, or create content in some place of the universe that speaks to their greatest fear that they are committed to overcoming.
Whether that’s, how you look, how you feel, a relationship that you’re in, the lack of relationship that you’re in, that you’re single, whatever that looks like, because it is the single thing that has elevated my ability to be really confident in myself.”
Is there anything you would do differently?
“If I would have started sooner, I think I would have made more use of different social tools. I was in the camp for a long time of being somebody who consumed social media instead of somebody who was contributing to it. Using it instead of letting it use me.
If I would have had the confidence to speak and put myself out there, I don’t think I would have just made, like, ‘here I am at Coachella’ post.’ I would have actually been able to be empowered to share something that people could learn from and ultimately serve my purpose, which is helping other people. So, yeah, just starting sooner not making excuses for so long and allowing myself to have this thing that just hung over me.”
Check out the full interview for more gems.