We all know the importance of conquering our fears, having the courage to speak up, doing the things we need to do and “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”©. And courage is often put forward as the antidote or remedy to help you overcome fears. “If I am courageous, then the fear will be gone!”
What is courage?
Indeed, courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the willingness to do those things despite your fears. We hear about courageous leadership, courage under fire and courageous decisions. These are different forms of courageousness, involving different ways of conquering your fears. In all of this courage there is still fear and the fear does not serve as a barrier, rather it drives us to proceed and go on despite having fear.
Although courageousness helps you move ahead and achieve your goals, courage alone is not enough to succeed in those areas of your life where you need to grow and deal with obstacles or fears. Courage is a great first step, but you should also plan, prepare, learn new skills and take small steps towards achieving your goals, despite your fears.
What else do you need aside from courage?
If you have fear of public speaking, as many people do, just having the courage to stand up on stage and speak, does not mean that you are going to have success or be an effective speaker straight up. Along with courage you also need to develop some skills and techniques around public speaking. You need to prepare and practise and maybe get some coaching or support.
Another comparison is a soldier at war. All soldiers are brave and courageous before they go to war. But that is not enough to ensure they are good soldiers. They still need to be prepared and trained by the army. When joining the army, a courageous soldier will be given the right training and sufficient equipment in preparation to go into battle.
In public speaking, keep in mind that while courage is important, you still need to prepare. More specifically, you need to make the following preparations:
- Know your topic
- Know your audience
- Know your venue
- Know the questions you are likely to get
- Know your stories and key messages
- Know your timing
- Have back up plans and contingency for all of the “what if’s”.
Courage and preparations
Some people think, “Just go do it because I’m ready, I’m tired of being afraid.” You need the courage to drive you to start working and dealing with your fears. But being courageous and being out there is not enough. You also need to be prepared. Courage is a great first step and with preparation and practise, you can make your first presentation a success.