I like to think that there is as much difference between two human beings as there is between two animal species. Part of the fear of public speaking - that is the fear of exposure - is due to not knowing what kind of animal we are!
This is my point and this is, indeed, a metaphor. To feel confident we need a clear identity.
So yes there is as much difference between you and me as there is between cat and dog, hare and tortoise or fox and crow... As people, the range of possible tastes, behaviors, skills, strengths, social habits, usual environment.... is huge.
In ancient, shamanic cultures, individuals were associated with animal totems. Maybe this was a way to express the intrinsic differences that existed between members of the group.
Someone's totem could be the lion, and the individual would be expected to behave fiercely like a leader, hunter and warrior. Someone else could have the squirrel as emblem. The individual could be the one who hoards food and is able to provide when the hunters come back empty handed...
The squirrel wouldn't be expected to behave like a lion, and the lion wouldn't be expected to behave like a squirrel, whilst both could be valued for their unique contribution to the group.
We can observe animal totems defining identities in some brands. Some glorious cars are jaguars. A French savings bank, the "Caisse d'Epargne", has a squirrel for logo.
We don't need a PhD in religious history to see that we are as diverse as nature is... whereas in our societies, we have to conform to almost uniform standards of behavior. Or at least we believe we have to conform... As a result, we are very vulnerable to judgments and prejudices.
Einstein is said to have said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
We don't know if Einstein actually said that, or if people posting on Facebook use Einstein's name to get more likes, however it's a very good point. We are often fish judged on their ability to climb trees and it makes us very nervous, especially when it's public speaking time! (or dating time, or job interview time...)
That's why I am suggesting, as a way to overcome shyness and nervousness, to define more clearly who we are, if only for ourselves. What would be our animal totem, if we had one?
What are the special qualities that define our worth? What are the perfectly acceptable and respectable limitations on the flip side of our qualities? (No one can be all the animals, with all qualities and no flaws. We have to accept that.)
By the way, I am not suggesting that we introduce ourselves as a lion or a squirrel in professional settings, let alone as a jackal or a monkey. Please don't do that, and please don't say I have I told anybody to. Doing it as confidence exercise in an Organic Speaking session will be enough.
All we need to feel more confident and inspire others is to know and accept ourselves for who we are...