I WAS TOLD that one of the greatest fears people have is speaking in public. I have to speak a lot in public, in temples and at conferences, at marriages and funerals, on talkback radio, and even on live television. It’s part of my job.
I remember one occasion when, five minutes before I was to give a public talk, fear overwhelmed me. I hadn’t prepared anything; I had no idea what I was going to say. About three hundred people were sitting in the hall expecting to be inspired. They had given up their evening to hear me talk. I began thinking to myself: “What if I can’t think of anything to say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I make a fool of myself?”
All fear begins with the thought What if and continues with something disastrous. I was predicting the future, and with negativity. I was being stupid. I knew I was being stupid. I knew I was being stupid; I knew all the theory, but it wasn’t working. Fear kept rolling in. I was in trouble.
All fear begins with the thought What if and continues with something disastrous.
That evening I developed a trick, what we call in monk-speak “a skillful means,” which overcame my fear then, and which has worked ever since. I decided that it didn’t matter if my audience enjoyed the talk or not, as long as I enjoyed my talk. I decided to have fun.
Now, whenever I give a talk, I have fun. I enjoy myself. I tell funny stories, often at my own expense, and laugh at them with the audience.
One time on live radio in Singapore I told Ajahn Chah’s prediction about the currency of the future (Singaporeans are interested in things economic).
Ajahn Chah predicted once that the world would run out of paper for banknotes and metal for coins, so the people