How to deal with ‘what will people think?’ fears

A few weeks ago I started a weekly video series on Instagram. I wanted to experiment with a different kind of content and push myself out of my comfort zone. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I’m a writer, much happier in the background than in front of the camera. It’s taken a lot of effort to push past fears including:

😨 What if people don’t like it?
😨 What if they say I’m wrong?
😨 What if they don’t like me?
😨 What if I trip over my words?
😨 What if nobody watches?
😨 What if people criticise me for not having studio lighting?
😨 What if it doesn’t look professional?

You might have had similar concerns about areas of your business, from making the step into self-employment to creating marketing materials or delivering your service. This article is about pushing past that barrier with your content marketing and putting your work out there.

Done is better than perfect

You might have heard this before. You might have discounted it. But honestly, it’s true: done is better than perfect. 

I could come up with many excuses for why I shouldn’t have a video show, including that I don’t have a proper mic or a ring light, or that I really don’t like the sound of my own voice. You have to take the leap. Pressing the button might feel scary but you will soon find that any fears you had will melt away. 

A piece of advice that has stuck with me every time I think about video is: “You’ve got to do the reps.” What does that mean? It means the first video you do will be awful, so will the next one, and the next. Much as you can’t expect to be able to hold a plank for more than a couple of seconds when you first start (I can’t even do that), you can’t expect to be immediately good at video.

The advice to do the reps came from Antonio Centeno when he spoke at the Youpreneur Summit 2018 and he said you need to make at least 100 videos before you start to improve. I recently published episode 6 of Copy and Coffee. I’ve got a long way to go.

Every time something isn’t to my liking, I remind myself that done is better than perfect. Whether you choose to write or hit record, you need to press publish. Otherwise, you really never will know the potential of what you have created and see that it’s not only ok but impacts your business positively.

Get some peer support

I write with a group of people I met through Seth Godin’s altMBA. We make a commitment to write each week and then give feedback on each other’s work. It helps get over ‘is this good enough’ fears and also unstick us when we’re trying to create something and it’s not quite working. We even wrote a book together last year.

Having a group of people I can share my work with and improve it before publishing, is a good confidence boost. Could you do the same?

When I started working on this article, I decided to ask my writing accountability buddies if they would like to contribute to it. As you will see, you’re not alone in worrying about what people will think and whether you have something to contribute. Here is what they have to say and how they get past the resistance.

The fear of being boring

Ashlee Berghoff is the founder of A Squared Online, helping entrepreneurs focus on what they should be doing and getting it done.

She said: “The biggest fear I’ve had to wrestle with in my own work is the fear of being boring – that people will just shrug and keep scrolling past the things I’m most hoping to share.

“Realizing that this fear is very old, stemming directly from junior high insecurities, has in some ways helped to break its power (you know, maybe it’s possible I was wrong about some things when I was 13).

“Another concept that I come back to again and again is the fact that there are other people like me in the world – other people who are struggling with the same things I did two years ago, or asking the same questions. Is it possible that they are looking for someone like me? That the unique perspective I bring to the table will be the one that helps things click for them? If so, I have a responsibility to share my best work with the world, and nothing to fear.”

What comes first: the message or the audience?

If a tree falls in a forest and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? For anyone with a message, I think we can change this to: “If I launch something new and no-one sees it immediately, is it worth creating?” The only way to find out is to test it. And to test it, you need an audience. But to get an audience, you need something to attract their interest. This is something Ted Lemon is currently working on.

He said: My biggest challenge right now is finding something to say that I think will be of use to a reader, and believing that anyone will read it. I don’t have a large platform, and it takes a lot of emotional energy to write something that I think will make any sort of difference that I want to make. I’m also a middle-aged white man in the U.S., and I am fairly sure there are voices other than mine that need to be heard, and with whom I do not want to compete.

“So the problem is an audience development problem. Until I have an audience, I’m always going to have to work harder than is justified to write what I think needs to be written. And yet, if I don’t start writing it, I will never have an audience. That is the reasoning that I’m using to try to push past the resistance at the moment.”

Learning to ship without fear or favour

How willing are you to put your hand up? I recently read Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come by Jessica Pan and one of the stories she tells is about being a tourist. She noticed people waving at others but nobody waved to her. When she waved though, people waved back.

Change coach Leanne Gordon, of Changing Futures, said: “We are trained from a young age not to put ourselves out there unless we know the answer, sound smart (or cool) and can feel confident that the reaction to speaking up will be a positive one. It took me a long time to intentionally turn these well-embedded behaviours around. These days, I am comfortable putting myself, and my work, into the world.

“Being comfortable doesn’t mean always being free of doubt or stress and there is always a thought to how my work will be received by those it is for. I have found the key is not to let those thoughts hold me back.

“Some of my tactics have been:

  • Starting small in low stakes areas (eg. new social media channels like Instagram)
  • Managing my expectations and using mantras like ‘perfection is the enemy of done’ and ‘good enough is good enough’
  • Crowdsourcing courage by joining accountability and mastermind groups
  • Committing to a practice – writing and posting a daily blog, writing a weekly blog, and allowing the routine and deadlines to counter any resistance.”

What works for you?

There’s always a nagging doubt when you create something and share it with the world but don’t let that stop you. Which one of these experiences and strategies chimed with you? How have you pushed past your fears with your content? Let me know in the comments.

One Response

  1. This is a well timed post, Rachel, and one I’ll need to come back to regularly.
    I’m plagued by imposter syndrome and need reminding that, although I’m by no means the world expert at what I do, to those who know even less than me, I am an expert.
    I make many videos a week, but avoid placing myself in front of the camera. This is something I need to change, and your post has motivated me to do something about it.
    Thank you.

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