To Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking, Stop Thinking About Yourself

Studies have shown that an increase in generosity leads to a decrease in amygdala activity. Showing kindness and generosity to others has been shown to activate the vagus nerve, which has the power to calm 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.

Admittedly, this is hard to do. As a speech coach, I often find that my clients who are the most generous in work and life have the hardest time speaking in public, because their brain is telling them, “Now is not the time to give. It’s time to run!” But it’s absolutely possible to become a generous speaker. Start with these three steps:

1. When you’re preparing, think about your audience.

When we start preparing for a presentation, the mistake we all make is starting with the topic. This immediately gets us inside the details — and makes it harder to break down the wall between us and others. Instead, start with the audience. Before diving into the information, ask yourself: Who will be in the room? Why are they there? What do they need? Be specific in your answers. Identify the audience’s needs, both spoken and unspoken, and craft a message that speaks directly to those needs.

2. Right before you speak, refocus your brain.

You are the most nervous right before you speak. This is the moment where your brain is telling you, “Everyone is judging me. What if I fail?” And it is exactly at this moment that you can refocus your brain. 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.” Over time (usually between four and six presentations), your brain will begin to get it, and you will become less nervous.

3. While you’re speaking, make eye contact.

One of the biggest mistakes we make is speaking to people as a group. We scan the room — trying to look everyone at once — and end up connecting with nobody.

In reality, each person in the room is listening to you as an individual. And so the best way to connect to your audience is by speaking to them as individuals. How? By making sustained eye contact with one person per thought. (Each thought is about one full clause.) By focusing at one person at a time, you make each person in the room feel like you are talking just to them.

This is hard. We are accustomed to scanning the room. Making direct eye contact can feel uncomfortable at first. Yet, as you practice it more, it will actually make you less nervous. It is far easier (and more effective) to have a series of one-on-one conversations than it is to speak to everyone at once. When my clients use this technique more than three consecutive times, they almost always report a decrease in speaking anxiety. (Note that the most important people to look at are those who are at the far edges of the room. These are the people who are already at a disadvantage. By being extra generous to those at the edges of the room, you bring everyone in.)

We know the power of generosity to give us a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and meaning. Generosity is just as powerful in speaking. It turns a nerve-wracking and even painful experience into one of giving and helping others. A generous speaker is calmer, more relaxed, and — most important — more effective at reaching the audience and making the desired impact.

From his success on the sales floor of an automotive dealership  to becoming a veteran trainer and then the adoption of technology for Internet-based marketing, his career has evolved to deliver the skills and tools needed to help consumers. Richie Bello combined his automotive expertise with his robust desire to “take care of the customer first” to become an automotive influencer, published author, and renowned trainer.  Bello absorbed the wants and needs of consumers as he worked up the ladder of the automotive industry.

Over the thirty-five years of his career, he developed strong Internet marketing skills, leading him to developing software solutions that create ease for consumers, and helps dealers improve relationships with customers. Innovation drives success. And, for Bello, it’s in his DNA. took years to come to consumers and arrived in a timely manner, during the 2020 Pandemic. With over 6 million vehicles on the site, features that help consumers deliver, finance and warranty, Bello has met the retail digital age head on.

Bello also is founder of Richie Bello Institute of Leadership and Management, a 501C3 not for profit, dedicated to the recruitment, education and employment of veterans into the automotive industry. Visit


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