All of us go through life and experience some embarrassing moments, which may then lead us to our fear of public speaking. What most of us don’t realize is that our most embarrassing moment can actually be the point our life pivots to a higher path. I want to share with you how I almost didn’t bounce back from one moment in particular.
My Most Embarrassing Moment Story
How I Almost Didn’t Bounce Back From an Embarrassing Moment
As long as I can remember back from when I was a kid, I had moments where I knew I had a performer inside of me. I knew I had a gift, and I knew I had a talent. Even though the environment where I was raised didn’t model that talent, I still found ways to feed my inner passions of being a performer in front of lots of people and holding the audience’s attention.
In the town where I lived, I was surrounded by people who worked in the financial district. It was kind of typical that you would grow up, go to a good college, graduate, and then go work in New York City as a financial trader or maybe a mortgage broker or stockbroker.
That was what I saw in my life, and that was what I was modeling — this life of going out and being successful financially in the world as a business person. My dad is an entrepreneur and my mom comes from a very educated background, so I had these models that showed me the merits of getting a great education and then going on to business.
One of My Funny Embarrassing Stories from Childhood
I had these fleeting moments when I was a kid. I used to watch Eddie Murphy Raw, and I used to imitate some of the scenes. When I did this, I felt like I had a performer in me. I was confident as an entertainer and public speaker but that wasn’t modeled in my environment.
The next time I had an opportunity to express this performer was in the 3rd grade where we did this screenplay in class. I created this screenplay in class with two of my friends; it was an unbelievable comedy, and we had so much fun doing it. I remember time stopping and thinking, “I’m having so much fun this doesn’t feel like work!” I wasn’t nervous at all and had no issues with remembering my lines — even at that tender age.
A couple of years later in the 5th grade, I played Gandhi in a school play, and I remember how much fun I had doing that. I only recalled this enjoyment in performing later in life. I realized I had experienced these fleeting moments of wanting to be a performer, wanting to be on stage, wanting to communicate to people. I thrived on being up on stage and using my talents to secure audience attention to keep it riveted on me.
As time went on, I felt the possibility and brightness of being a performer fade away.
The Most Embarrassing Moment in My Life and How It Almost Crushed Me
I grew up and got into the financial world with New York Life insurance company, where I acquired clients and did seminars. Seminars allowed me to express myself and perform in a way.
One day, I was going to deliver a talk on financial products to a group of clients. I’d been out that weekend drinking, and I probably had about 15 drinks of alcohol in my body.
I walked into the seminar room kind of cocky because I had rehearsed my speech several times. I knew the lines perfectly. After all, I was a seasoned performer by this point and had no qualms about my confidence in getting the message across to our clients.
At a Loss for Words is the Most Embarrassing Situation
— Ted McGrath (@ted_mcgrath) January 19, 2018
I got up in front of the audience and I started speaking and…I forgot my lines.
I’m talking completely blank. I couldn’t even remember my own name, the next word, what I was going to say next. There wasn’t any flow in my head, and I didn’t know what I was going to do.
I started breaking out in beads of sweat. They started rolling down my forehead and pretty soon, it was like Niagara Falls. I remember I had this light blue shirt on, and it was soaking wet within 2 minutes.
I’m trying to speak, and I just decided I was going to take a seat in the front row with the clients. I gave into my speech anxiety. My flight-or-fight response. I sat down and was literally watching nobody on stage. You could hear a pin drop in the room.
My stage fright took over me and I didn’t know what to say. The clients didn’t know what to say! My boss was there, and he didn’t know what to say.
It was one of the most embarrassing moments ever.
Devastated After the Most Embarrassing Moment
After a couple of minutes of silence, I decided that I was gonna get back up, get on stage, and finish the rest of the talk.
I put my jacket on over my sweaty shirt, and I finished the rest of the talk. After I finished, I was so mortified I didn’t want to talk to anybody or talk about the experience.
Riding back in the car with my mentor, I pretended I was sick, and I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to confront the fact that I had gotten totally drunk that weekend and had forgotten my lines. It was so embarrassing and mortifying, I didn’t think I could ever give a speech again, much less get over my performance anxiety.
Bouncing Back After My Most Embarrassing Moment
However, two days later, a realization came to me that I wasn’t going to go down like this.
I knew that three weeks later we were going to be doing another seminar, and we had invited that same firm. It was my moment of redemption. I could rehearse my presentation, learn it, and show up sober and deliver the talk.
And that’s what I did.
Three weeks later I went to deliver the talk. I nailed it and overcame my fear of public speaking and getting back on that stage.
If I hadn’t done that, where would I be today?
Maybe I would have given up speaking completely. I probably never would have become a public speaker at all.
What My Most Embarrassing Moment Gifted Me
I went on and eventually got into the coaching, speaking, and running a seminar business, and here I am today. I’m doing seminars, and I’m also a performer. I’m now on stage and doing videos like this, and I’m speaking in front of hundreds of people across the world. All this to say, I’m doing what I love and that embarrassing moment of speech anxiety didn’t stop me — and your most embarrassing moments don’t need to stop you either!
In case you need more inspiration, here’s me again during the second session of the Message to Millions seminar:
Wherever you are today, if you’ve had an embarrassing moment, now’s the time to look at it and get back on that horse and go. You know that it’s time to trot again. It’s time to race again. It’s time to get back in the game and do it. Face your fear of public speaking, social anxiety, stage fright or whatever is holding you back.
You never know — maybe getting back in the game will birth a new passion or new creativity inside of you that serves humanity.
What are your challenges in overcoming your fear of public speaking? Let me know how I can help so I can provide more fear of public speaking tips for you.