Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Why is ignoring your public speaking “wounds” detrimental to your public speaking “outfit”? [Thursday: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants]

March 28, 2024

Mike Acker, author of the book, “Speak With No Fear: Go from a nervous, nauseated, and sweaty speaker to an excited, energized, and passionate presenter,” says as a kid, he played hard. It was common for him to get cuts on his knees, get back up, and play harder. 

In his words: 

“I was a daredevil. I was an explorer. I was crazy.”

Each time he injured himself, his mom would eventually see him poking his knee, elbow, or another area in pain. Her questions would lead to exposing young Acker’s wound. 

Whenever his mom saw the infected wound, she would jump up and get the first aid kit. She would drag Acker to the bathroom and painfully clean his cut. Only after she probed his pain did she apply Neosporin and band-aids.

You would think Acker would learn from that, but he didn’t. In fact, he just kept injuring himself and trying to move past it.

Uncovering and Cleaning the Wounds 

According to Acker, many people ignore their pain and run from their hurt. He sees it again and again—people who walk around with barely disguised limps, bandages bleeding through, or makeup to cover infections. 

Some are hurt so badly that their wounds cause them to react hysterically if you try to get near them. This made Acker realize that such a behavior is NOT healthy. 

If you constantly react negatively or run from people, Acker suggests you go to someone who will uncover your wound, probe your pain, and get the toxins out of your system. 

This could be in the form of visiting a counselor, joining a grief group, engaging in purposeful journaling, or finding a great church. 

He believes no one should walk around wounded. 


Public Speaking Wounds 

Just as people cover up emotional wounds, they also cover up past public speaking wounds.

Uncovering and cleaning your wound is a proven strategy… but this will only work when you work it. By this, we mean facing and addressing your deep-seated public speaking hurts. 

Why is this important? 

By probing the pain and re-examining the circumstances, you will be armed with awareness that combats your anxiety.

… and when your past pain no longer defines you, your present fear will begin to be eased.

Acker states many of his clients have experienced freedom from fear by uncovering and cleaning their wounds. There were also others who dismissed this process, only to later tell him that they had chosen to start journaling or see a counselor. 

As they took action, they also experienced freedom.

Taking a moment to uncover your wounds as a public speaker is important. These questions help reveal the source of your fear or nervousness:

  • Have you been embarrassed in front of people? What happened?
  • Did you ever get put on the spot without being ready for it? How did it turn out?
  • Do you have memories of multiple people making fun of you?
  • Where have you fallen short of your own expectations for yourself?
  • Why do you care so much about what people might think of you?
  • What is the most humiliating moment in your life? (It probably had something to do with people’s attention being brought to a mistake you made, a failure you had, or a weakness you are insecure about.)
  • What causes are at the root of your fear? 

This is the beginning of the uncovering-your-wound strategy. If you don’t do this, every bad experience of yours will compound, causing the weight of your fear to increase. 

Ignoring your pain is the equivalent to layers of expensive, nice clothes hiding your wound from sight. The problem is that when the wound gets bumped, the blood and pus will ooze out.

The bottom line? 

If you don’t deal with your public speaking “wounds” properly, you also risk ruining your public speaking “outfit.”

What’s Next? 

Acker says uncovering your public speaking wounds is just the first step. The next thing you have to do if you truly want to get better at this craft is to counsel yourself

He suggests that you take at least one of the following action items: 

  1. Journal your pain

Here lies the key to healing: Relive the feelings that lead to your fear.

Use these questions to uncover the wound:

  • Have you been embarrassed in front of people? What happened?
  • Did you ever get put on the spot without being ready for it? How did it turn out?
  • Do you have memories of multiple people making fun of you?
  • Where have you fallen short of your own expectations for yourself?
  • Why do you care so much about what people might think of you?
  • What is the most humiliating moment in your life?

Writing down your pain will help you deal with the upheaval that you’ve undergone. 

  1. Go to a counselor

If the pain is deep, go to a counselor or a trusted group where you can discuss what happened to your failed public speaking engagement.

Talking this through with your emotional support system will help you accept yourself, which can lead to increased confidence in your future speeches or presentations.

  1. Turn your story into a speech

This action combines uncovering and cleaning the wound along with working on a speech. You will need to uncover your wound to begin writing, but the process of writing becomes a salve as you discover the lessons you’ve learned from the experience.

Use a simple speech structure containing an introduction, three main points, and conclusion.

The introduction sets the stage for incidents that are at the root of your fear of public speaking. The three main points are three stories that happened to you and how you felt about them. The conclusion is how you are going to move on and not let the past define your future. 

The ending of your speech should be the lesson you want to bestow on others.

There you have it—the steps to help you uncover, clean, and heal from your public speaking wounds! 

Just an additional note: If the wound is too deep, keep working on one or more of the methods we mentioned above… and regardless of how deep or shallow the wound is, take action to uncover and clean it.

As American educator and professor Randy Pausch once said: 

“One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose.”

Take note of this strategy so you can eventually become your own great speaker someday! 

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Thursdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”

In a meeting with one person…

… a boardroom with five people…

… or a huge venue with hundreds of people…

—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.

No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.

What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?

Every Thursday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.

The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.

(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)

Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to communicate and present well will definitely give you an edge.

Have that advantage.

Hope you find this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Thursday’s “Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!”


Kyle Yu
Head of Special Projects
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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