Overcoming Public Speaking Fears by Hugging the Monster

Hugging the Monster new look

Back in the fall, I had the chance to hear Dr. JoAnn Deak speak on “The Woes and Wonder of Stress.”

And wonder of stress.

I skew anxious. I’m surrounded by family members who skew anxious. And while it may mean we are great travel companions (there’s always Band-Aids, aspirin, a Plan B rainy day itinerary), it isn’t an easy road to navigate.

I find myself ready to let (some of) it go.

Oh, sure, I’ll hold on to things like “no roller coasters,” because this isn’t really impacting my life (plus on this side of pregnancy, motion sickness is a thing. Someone feels me, right?), but I’m giving a firm shove to others.

We encourage our kids to “give it a try” and “it’ll get easier, I promise.” Dr. Deak calls these forays of moving into our fears “hugging the monster.” I love this expression.

So, I found myself, again, offering a session for my state convention and preparing for an hour long talk in front of peers this April. I approach it with equal measures of calm preparation and stomach aches when I picture it happening. But I did this last year and (spoiler alert) didn’t die and I was eager-in-theory to make some improvements.

Last year, I was the last session on a Friday which gave me a baby step, small audience opportunity. I knew this year would be different—first session after lunch in the middle of the convention was bound to be better attended.

I checked in at the booth for my badge and room number. “Ballroom 3 and 4” they told me. This sounded like a pretty big monster. I didn’t say anything, but my eyes clearly did. “You’ve got 300 signed up. Good luck!”

Horizontal NCSHLA

This week I’m sending my panicked children off for standardized tests and AP exams–huge monsters for our young gladiators.

My job? Enforcing bedtimes. Making stellar, filling breakfasts (our favorite meal). Reminding them that showing up and effort are the real win. That we are capable of so much more than we think we are.

If you struggle with perfectionism with a side of anxiety like me, you might like this. If you’re wondering how to step up and present at your own state convention, check this out. If you’d like me to come and speak about apps in the therapy room or social media for the SLP, send me an email.  I’m available!




This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Heidi Britz

    I loved the post (I too hug that monster and so do my boys)! Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your presentation (surely a success)!!

    1. admin

      Thanks, Heidi! I got positive feedback and it felt good which is most important!

  2. Annie Doyle

    Awesome post! I have spent most of my life facing anxiety and hugging that big old monster! It is such a wonderful thing when you hurdle that anxiety, so glad you did!!!

    1. admin

      The support is so appreciated, Annie!

Comments are closed.


The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.