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The IMPOSTER Syndrome and The Fear of Public Speaking

Updated: Jan 28

Imposter Syndrome

Imagine this "Fear of Public Speaking" example.

You’re asked to deliver a presentation to an audience of your subordinates, peers, and bosses. Great “Speaking Opportunity!” correct?


However, there could be challenges. What if:

  • Many in the audience have more years of service with the company?

  • Quite a few have more years in the industry?

  • A lot of folks are older than you?

  • You perceive most attendees know way more about the topic you’ll be speaking on than you do?

  • You believe every word you speak is being scrutinized for its authenticity and relevance?

Thoughts like those increase your Fear of Public Speaking and decrease the quality of your delivery.

If that’s your “head trash” you might have a case of Imposter Syndrome. Wikipedia defines this as a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” No one I know would ever want that label.

You might be experiencing negative self-talk. Examples:

  • “What if they find out the truth about me?”

  • “Who knows the truth and who have they told?”

  • “Is there any way to stop people from finding out?”

  • “Many can do this better than I can and they should be giving this talk.”

Some of that Imposter Syndrome comes from the fact that most of us don’t like hearing people brag about themselves and are reluctant to toot our own horn. Perhaps, you are the first of your family or friends who have been in a leadership position and you’re “feeling guilty” about it.

Seventy-five percent of the population has a Fear of Public Speaking. It’s natural to have this fear because most of our communication is one-on-one, either face-to-face or via telephone where we don’t see the person we’re talking to. With texting and email being a prevalent form of correspondence for many, where those communicating don’t see or hear each other, it stands to reason being in front of many sets of eyeballs takes us out of our comfort zone. That’s why we’re uncomfortable. Combine this natural Fear of Public Speaking with the Imposter Syndrome, and it’s a recipe for increased anxiety.

The first step is to realize you have these thoughts. Awareness is a good thing. It may strike you when reading an article, like this one, about this syndrome. You’re not alone if you have feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes it needs to be pointed out by someone who knows you and sees its effects.

Next, start STOPPING those thoughts with positive affirmations when they arise. Realize you are not where you are because it was a gift, mistake, or by luck. It was hard work that got you there and will keep you in that leadership role. Be proud of your accomplishments!

Take and make every “Speaking Opportunity!” you can and your presentations will be - NO SWEAT!


Pausing is a key component of presenting.

About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, an international coach, and the author of the books,“NO SWEAT Public Speaking!” and“NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

Businesses, Individuals, and Organizations hire him because they want to improve their Networking, Public Speaking, andPresentation Skills.

They do this because they know:"Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities."

They also know:We perceive really great speakers to be Experts. We like to work with Experts.

He shows them how to: Develop, Practice, and Deliver Fantastic Presentations! with – NO SWEAT!


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