I often read that one of the biggest fears most people have is speaking in front of others. I've never had that problem, even when I was a kid, after I had the lead part in my 2nd grade play. I was also always the kid in class who'd ask the question that I knew someone else wanted the answer to but was afraid to ask; hey, I wanted to know.

Rally for Health Reform with President Obama at UMD College Park 9/17/2009
Barack Obama via Compfight

It turns out that speaking in front of others isn't relegated to speaking on stage. Over the years I've run into a lot of people who are scared to speak in front of others when it comes to meetings, even if there's only 3 or 4 people in the room. I've never quite understood that because I've always felt that if I was being invited to a meeting it was to be able to ask questions and give my opinion so I didn't walk out with an understanding of what's going on.

I never thought about it all that much but in a way one has to have a certain type of confidence that's separate from the type of confidence in knowing one's stuff and thus being prepared for everything. After all, if you have to ask questions it means you either don't already know something, are clarifying points, or are trying to stir up conversation by acting like a devil's advocate. But if you have something pertinent to share with the group but you're scared because you think someone might look down on you... well, that's something you need to learn how to get over.

That's why I'm here. I'm going to give you 3 things to think about that hopefully will help you come to grips with such things. And no, none of them will be to think of the people in the room without clothes on; how nasty! lol

1. Research. If you have information to give but you're scared of giving it verify your research and then verify it again. If you have statistics or information to back you up, and you write that stuff down and take it with you, then if someone even thinks of deriding you because they disagree with it they're making themselves look ludicrous and unknowing. It doesn't mean someone might have an opposing position, but it means you've done due diligence and should be confident in any information you have to share.

2. Think of the consequences of not knowing. In school, I was one of those people who actually read my textbooks. If I couldn't get everything I needed to know from there, I knew the only other way I was going to get the information was by asking questions. True, I found sometimes that my teachers weren't really qualified to answer my questions either (what a lesson that was to learn) but it helped me learn how to find the people who actually could give me the answers I needed. The consequences of not knowing are failure at some point and failure should never be an option. As far as your job goes... well, it could spell the difference between having a job or not.

3. Accolades and acknowledgement. This might sound egotistical but one of the best things any of us can get is recognition for doing something good or knowing something that helps get the job done. Think about how nice it is whenever someone has praised you for knowing something no one else had thought of, or for confirming something one way or another. If more people thought about what could happen that's good instead of what could happen that's bad there would be less fear, more sharing and open communications, and fewer problems down the road because of a lack of knowledge. Be that positive conduit; you might like the feeling.