Speech Anxiety and Opportunity
Speech Anxiety and opportunity, the fear of public speaking and the importance of seizing every opportunity are celebrated in Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself”.
Last summer I was driving somewhere with my family, and Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself,” came on the radio. My wife Fleur, after the song concluded said, “That song describes the experience of delivering a speech (the fear of public speaking), and the speech anxiety a speaker experiences before a presentation; and how every time you get to perform (in our case public speaking), it is an opportunity to be seized!”
At Los Angeles Valley College, the center of the San Fernando Valley, and Los Angeles County, the student body is the most diverse to be found anywhere in the world. Not only is the large population full of wonderfully talented people from all over the world, but the community is comprised of individuals that seem to have a larger than most share of challenges to negotiate. Many, if not most of my students come from broken homes, impoverished backgrounds, academic and social challenges, and even have fled from homelands that would never provide them with true opportunity to advance their lives. According to Wikipedia, Eminem’s life narrative is like many of my students, Marshall Bruce Mathers III was born on October 17, 1972, AKA Eminem, came from a fatherless home, he was raised by an abusive mostly absent mom, he was a bullied loner. His mother would move them from home to home, often in African American neighborhoods where he would routinely be beaten up. He spent three years in the ninth grade because of truancy, and finally dropped out of school at the age of 17. His saving grace was story telling. He loved to tell stories. After discovering hip hop, he discovered how to tell his stories with a beat. However, it was a struggle to succeed in a predominantly black industry, but Eminem would eventually earn approval of underground hip hop audiences…. Eminem went onto become the best-selling artist of the 2000s in the United States. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 83rd on its list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and declared him The King of Hip Hop.
So, how does this all relate to public speaking, the speech anxiety (AKA the fear of pubic speaking), and the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way…? That is what the song, “Lose Yourself,” is about. Consider the very clear and detailed narrative that plays out in Eminem’s Lose Yourself video, and how speech anxiety and opportunity both enter the lives of everyone at some point. Some people step up and do what needs to be done, but most don’t. Speech anxiety, the fear of public speaking, is the number one fear in life; second, is the fear of speaking about death (the doctor, police officer, or firefighter who has to tell someone they have lost a loved one); and third is actually dying. So, most people avoid speech anxiety by avoiding speech! This is a great opportunity lost!
Every time YOU accept the opportunity to speak four things happen:
1) YOU are heard!
2) YOU become a stronger person, because you are combatting the number one fear in life – speech anxiety!
3) YOU become a stronger speaker, because you have embraced the number one fear in life – given a speech! And every time your speak thereafter, you improve.
4) YOU are sharpening YOUR number one skill-set for life. Pubic speaking is intellectually empowering, socially empowering, professionally empowering, financially empowering, and politically empowering.
I hope you find Eminem’s video as encouraging, and inspiring as I do. And don’t let speech anxiety prevent you from seizing any opportunities that you are blessed with.