Today, I interview Hrideep Barot. Growing up in India, Hrideep says he thinks his lack of confidence began at a very young age when he was struggling with night terrors. He couldn’t sleep without having nightmares, so he ended up in therapy and began suffering from crippling social anxiety. He finally started to have some relief from the night terrors in middle school, but this is also when he noticed that he lacked confidence.
He’d been comfortable and poised while practicing a poem for the talent show, but when the show started and the lights hit him, he felt a mysterious fear on that stage. From this point forward, he became an introvert at school. It was a great school with good opportunities and programs, and as Hrideep saw his friends developing themselves and starting to date and find their paths, he remained shy and felt very left behind in a lot of ways.
As he started college, Hrideep realized his social anxiety was going to pose a huge problem. He would need to do lots of presentations and group projects. And what would he do when he graduated and needed to find a job? He knew something had to change. Ironically, since Hrideep wasn’t good at math, the only degree program that didn’t involve math was communications!
During this program, he discovered that although it was a very academic program full of mostly writing instead of speeches, his classmates and peers were full of so much variety. They were cultured and diverse, so charismatic and curious and ready to learn. When he was forced to stand up and introduce himself to his classmates, they were confused by his anxiety. This was the turning point for Hrideep. He was about to spend the next few years with this group of people, and he was determined to overcome his fear.
He looked for a coach but couldn’t afford one. He spent hours on Google and the advice was unrealistic, easier said than done. He finally came up with a practical idea. He wrote down famous speeches given by other people, memorized them, and practiced emulating those people in the mirror. Eventually, a friend got sick and needed him to deliver a speech for her, and it went incredibly well because he knew the information he needed to present. The high of a good presentation stuck with him, and he felt a new sense of confidence. He realized that the “worst-case scenario is not that bad.” Now, after years of practice, Hrideep runs Frantically Speaking, a company that helps professionals become better speakers and communicators.
Hrideep Barot is the Founder of Frantically Speaking, which has grown from 0 to 100,000 readers within a span of merely 2 years. He has coached people from companies like Meta, Tesla, Deloitte, KPMG, and Adobe, and has trained people from various universities like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Hult, and more. Previously, he worked in the pitching team for one of India’s fastest-growing agencies presenting to companies like Netflix, Pepsi, Google, Amazon Prime, and Coke.
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Transcript of Interview
Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode # 91 Hrideep Barot
“Confident Communication Is a Journey”
(00:36) Dr. Doreen Downing
I am Dr. Doreen Downing and I host the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. What I love about inviting guests here is that they have somehow suffered in a way not having their voice. We never really know until they get on what that story is. Because it could be anywhere from actually growing up in a family where siblings overtook everything and were the most important people in the family and the child didn’t get heard or seen, to school is another place where people find that maybe they get bullied and want to hold themselves back, and then all the way up into the work world. It seems like early on is when we get our first view of how others see us. When people look at you and go, “Yay, you. We’re so glad you’re here.” There’s a sense of— I’m going like this: “Yay, me,” so that beginning of confidence feels like it happens really early in life and planted like a seed. Welcome today, Hrideep. I’m so glad to have met you on the internet.
(02:00) Hrideep Barot
Yes, thank you so much Doreen. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m glad you responded to my message. I’m glad we could do this. Quite excited to be here. A big fan of the show, so thank you so much for the opportunity.
(02:14) Dr. Doreen Downing
You’re welcome. I’d like to give you a platform today to tell your story. Before I do that, you sent me a bio, and I would like to refer to that first before we dive into the personal stories. You’re the founder of Frantically Speaking, which has grown from 0 to 100,000 readers within a span of nearly two years. Well, that’s a story in itself, I’m sure, to have intention and grow a business like that. You’ve coached people from companies like Meta, Tesla, Deloitte, Adobe, and more. You’ve also trained from various universities, people who have come from Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and more. Before, it seems like, obviously, you didn’t have the ability to get out and pitch but one of the things you’re telling me here is that now you have worked pitching on a team for one of India’s fastest growing agencies. You’ve presented to companies like Netflix, Pepsi, Google, Amazon Prime, Coke, and more. Well, thank you for the bio. Hello again. To get to that takes something, so I feel like, what I said earlier, that you had some seed inside of you that was meant to grow into this. I know from what you wrote me that it wasn’t always easy for you to speak. Let’s go back and just show us and open the door to your early life and what it was like being you.
(04:10) Hrideep Barot
Yes, sure. Thank you so much. So, to go all the way back in time, if you were to just understand the roots of what happened, I suffered from crippling social anxiety. I think that I’m not sure of what the exact cause of it was, but this happened to me even before I was conscious of what social anxiety might be. I was very small at the time. I think one of the root causes of a lack of confidence came in because I had a very bad problem with a seemingly unrelated challenge of night terrors. There was nothing I was particularly scared about, but I just had the worst nightmares as a kid. I had to be taken for therapy. I could not sleep. I did not let my parents sleep. I was just completely a mess in terms of my mind at the time. I wasn’t sure why this was happening. It’s not like I would watch something scary. It was just something that was there in me. After I slightly started to get over that, and after I reached my middle schooling years, that’s when the issue of confidence started coming up. The first time I noticed this, as far as I can remember, is that there was an event in school. Those small talent shows that happen when we’re in school. You’re made to recite a small poem, or if you have a talent of music, you play music, whatever it is. I did not have such talent at that time, but I’m like, “You know what, let’s give it a shot.”
(05:45) Hrideep Barot
I went and rehearsed a small poem. I had to go and deliver that. The auditorium wasn’t full. There were about, as far as I remember, about 150 people in an auditorium, which had a capacity of about 500, so you can imagine there was some empty chairs here and there. I remember going on stage. They announced my name. I went up. I saw some of the other speakers. I was fine. I wasn’t nervous before, those butterflies in the tummy, nothing like that was there. But when I went on stage, I realized that the light hit me for the first time, that was the first time that I was actually on a stage, on a platform. The mic is in front of me on a stand. My parents are in one corner, my friends are on the other corner, I teachers are on the front row, and I just couldn’t speak. Just completely blanked out. My parents were also shocked because I was practicing the night before, there was no problem. I was nervous about it but as soon as I went on stage, and the lights hit me, and we all know that feeling. Now, as adults, we know that feeling when the light hits you. That is a nerve-wracking feeling, but I didn’t expect it as a kid, so when that hit, I realized, “Okay, I am terrified of this whole stage thing.” From there on, I could start piecing some things together because as I got older and older, I realized that it’s not just about the stage, even on a social setting, I tend to be extremely shy. That’s when I learned the word, “introvert”, that we all know so well now.
I realized this because I came from a particular school. It was one of the best schools in the city, so I was very comfortable in that. In that school, I’d made my set of friends and everything. But as soon as I got out of that school, by the time we were in high school, we started exploring things beyond just the boundaries of our own school. We started gelling with some other people and the world started expanding. At that point, I could see my other friends. They started making a lot of new acquaintances. They started having girlfriends, and we started having new groups. I felt myself lacking behind. Not intentionally. I didn’t have anybody, nothing. I don’t know. I just could not really make friends as easily as they could. That’s where the social anxiety came in. From a very young age, confidence has always been an issue. Even in my family, I was always known as the quiet one. I would only reply in yes and no’s. The kid who’s just “Yes and no.” Just doing that all the time, not elaborating, not wanting to speak, sitting in his corner, and playing his video game.
That was the start of understanding this challenge. By the time I reached college is when I realized that this is a huge problem because it’s affecting my grades. In college, you have to give a lot of presentations, as I’m sure everyone knows. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t make new friends. My school friends, I was out of school, so they were not there anymore. I couldn’t talk to new people. Worst, and most importantly, I realized as I graduate, what am I going to do when I get a job? Because I’m not good at technical things. I’m not a computer guy. I’m not a math guy. I had to be in something that was more talking-oriented. Then I actually started looking into the aspect of confidence of public speaking and that’s when those words are becoming familiar to me. That’s a little bit about the start.
(09:38) Dr. Doreen Downing
Before we go on, already there’s so much what you shared around moments of your life. First of all, there’s you coming into this world like all of us come with a certain proclivity, like you say, that we’re introverted or extroverted is one way of describing it. There was you coming into this world as more of a quieter, shy type of person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t speak. In a way, I feel that you did hold yourself back. Then that stage? Wow. Then the lights. You know I think there’s something primitive that goes on in our brains. They call it deer-in-the-headlights and you, to me, that image of you on the stage, to me feels like the deer-in-the-headlights moment that people talk about. Where you able to deliver the poem?
(10:41) Hrideep Barot
No, I did not. I said a couple of words. I went like, “Ahh…,” and there was an entry point and exit point. I just left and I put my head down. I just sat down. Then my teacher came to me and she’s like, “What happened?” I said, “No, it’s not happening.” Then the teacher, luckily, she liked me, she was quite sensitive. She’s like, “Okay, fine. You know what? We’ll work on this later. Let it be if you’re not comfortable, just let it go.”
(11:12) Dr. Doreen Downing
That’s important. What you just said about what happens after a traumatic moment is that if you had nobody come into that environment and say, “You’re fine. I understand.” In a way, it helps you adjust to the incident that could have been stuck in you, or you’ll never go back there again, or ever get on a stage.
(11:40) Hrideep Barot
Definitely. Yes, I still remember the teacher’s name. Her name is Mrs. Montero. She was quite understanding at the time.
(11:50) Dr. Doreen Downing
That is so important. Then you also had friends who you were comfortable with in terms of anxiety. I think you’re right about then moving outside the circle of what’s familiar to you. There’s a lot of hesitation for folks because they’re not that confident. But you got to college, or some form of advanced degree work, and was it after college that you said, “Gee, I better get myself together around communication,” or was it during college?
(12:29) Hrideep Barot
Correct. In India, it’s pretty similar to how it is in the US. But instead of a four-year degree, we have a three-year degree. At least I took the three-year degree. We have four-year options as well. It’s pretty similar to how universities work in the US. How it worked was that when I entered college, I was always very bad at math. I could not really do numbers, and every degree requires you to do math, except for one, which is a degree around mass media and communications, so I aimed for that. I got into one of the best colleges for that degree because it was written, I didn’t have to speak or anything, it was just academic in nature. After I’ve gotten there, I realized that everyone who is here is not here to study. Everyone is here to be artistic, everyone’s here to learn. It was a very different course from the other degrees that are there. The people who came there were also different in a very good way. They were exposed to different things. They were already ahead of a lot of people of their same age, so when I entered there in my first year, I realized that these people are quite sensitized already in a lot of aspects. Most of them. Of course, there were about 100 of us in that one batch. There were some people like me who were shy and nervous, but most of them were so extroverted, so out there, they could just talk to anybody with no problem and making friends. I hated that because I can’t do this. I felt more alone.
I remember the very first day I entered the classroom, I joined a little late for some technical reason my admission was a little delayed, I got in one month after the course had begun. By the time I got in, people had already made, not best friends, but people had their little groups they had spoken here and there, everyone had their partner sitting next to them. Also, that environment was almost created a little bit. I walked in as the new guy. I remember the day I walked in because there was no teacher that time. It was between lectures and how it works in this college, which I was in at least, is that we don’t have to switch classrooms for different lectures. The teacher keeps coming into your classroom, right. We were waiting for the teacher to enter the class. We were just sitting around, and I had entered at that time. Everyone was just having a good time. Everyone’s talking, people are standing near their desks, and everyone’s just having a good time. I come in, and as soon as I opened the door, everyone thought I was a teacher at first. Everyone stopped talking and just looked at me. I’m like, “Why are these people looking at me?” My face showed fear. I could not see myself but my face showed fear. Finally, they’re like, “Okay, he’s just a kid, like all of us.” They went back to talking. I just took a breath of fresh air. I went and I sat down in some corner over there.
I was just sitting by myself and one girl came up, and she started talking to me, she said, “I’m the class representative, so I handle all the attendance and everything. I would like to know your name, so I can write you in the register.” I started talking to her a little bit, and that calmed me down. I have something to do right now. Then one other girl came, and she’s this extroverted, bubbly girl. She just comes up, and she’s like, “Hey, new guy, you have to introduce yourself to the class.” I’m like, “You want me to stand?” Our classroom had a bit of a podium over there. She said, “Stand there and introduce yourself.” I just turned to the class representative. I remember just shaking my head like, “No, that’s not happening.” Somehow, they forced me to go up there, not in the bullying way, but they didn’t know what I was going through, they were just excited, so I went up there, I’m just like, “Hi, my name is Hrideep. Thank you.” This is when I just sat back down. That’s when it hit— Everyone was like, “Why are you being so weird about this?” That’s when it hit me that nobody cares that you have been through social anxiety. People expect you to be a certain way. That’s when I started feeling that if I don’t start fixing this—I didn’t make a good first impression right now in front of the people who I have to spend the next three years with—it is going to be much worse when I entered the work life. That’s the thought that I got. I’m like, Okay, I got to start figuring something out over here. That was the realization point.
(17:19) Dr. Doreen Downing
That’s really dramatic. Actually, seeing you entering that room and all eyes on you similar to the first stage you talked about in the deer and…
(17:30) Hrideep Barot
Nothing had changed.
(17:33) Dr. Doreen Downing
But it was nice that you had a friend there, the class advisor, who you looked at and said, “Uhh…” I’m going to take a quick break before we get into some of your challenges in finding confidence. We’ll be back in just a moment.
(18:02) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yay, we’re back. Hello, Hrideep. This is wonderful getting to know you and little snippets of your life. What we’re talking about today is voice and how we find voice means that there’s a way in which you have to be in the world and use your voice to communicate. Here you are in your college degree, finally finding someplace probably that is a good fit for you. But then specifically, you go, “I need to fix this because I am holding myself back.” Say more about what you did in the beginning to try and find your voice.
(18:49) Hrideep Barot
Yes, so after that experience happened, I started trying to get more understanding of confidence. That wasn’t the only incident. A few more happened at class projects. We have to give presentations, which just did not go well. But regardless, after all of that happened, I decided I’m going to get some help. I tried to search for some coaches to help myself in learning public speaking, communication etiquette, confidence building, but the coaches were just too expensive, and as a student, I could not afford that, so I thought, “Let’s just go to Google,” and I typed how to get better at public speaking, and I was very excited. But Doreen, almost every article, almost every video that I came across, more or less said the same thing. They all said that – maybe I didn’t look enough, I don’t know– but they all said, Hrideep, if you want to be better at public speaking, then all you need is confidence. As long as you have the courage, then you can do it. That sounds great in theory, but it’s so superficial as information. It’s very unhelpful because you can’t tell someone who doesn’t have confidence that you’re just— It’s not something I can eat, it’s not something I can buy, so what do I do by knowing I have to have confidence. That didn’t help at all. I was quite disappointed because I searched a lot, I saw a lot of videos, and none of it was giving me any direction. Some things did help around wherein they taught me some tips on how to practice by myself. I remember what I started doing was I would go on the internet, and there are these few channels on YouTube, which now provide you the transcript of certain speeches. I will just go to any speech I like, write the entire speech down, and then I’ll practice delivering it in front of the mirror. I try to imitate the actual speaker. I tried MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I just tried whatever.
(20:56) Dr. Doreen Downing
I would love to see that if you have them on video. Do you have a YouTube channel?
(21:00) Hrideep Barot
I do have a YouTube channel.
(21:03) Dr. Doreen Downing
That would be so much fun to have. You, before and after.
(21:09) Hrideep Barot
Yes, so I did these in front of the mirror, but I’ll edit them before and after right away as to what is actually available on video. But anyway, so that I would just do in front of the mirror. I didn’t know that you could video record. That process I didn’t know about it yet. My idea was just to speak and imitate people. That was a start. But how much can you do that? It’s not the most helpful thing. At that point, I remember I’m like, “You know what? This is a little too tedious.” Let’s just leave it for now. I made a couple of friends in college, of course, because I’m there all the time and I could speak to people one to one. My couple of friends, they were bang opposite of me, completely extroverted, just very bubbly, and out there. One of my friends, his name is [name 22:00]. He is one of the best hosts, anchors, and presenters. Even today, he’s just amazing at it. He would do a lot of these college events and festivals where he will host things and anchor different situations. But one day, he felt sick on a day that he had to actually do one of these anchor hearings. The teacher comes up to me and she’s like, “Hey, you. I need you to take over.” Now, she didn’t know that I was nervous. She just knew that I was his friend so she just saw me and she’s like, “Okay, fine. Can you do this?” I’m like, “What do you want me to do?” I’m fumbling like that talking already. She’s saying it’s nothing. It’s just literally a 15-minute event. There are some people who have come. There are only 20-25 people in the audience. You have to just introduce some people. That’s all you have to do. So, now, okay fine, let’s give this a shot. What’s the worst that can happen?
So, I went on stage, and it didn’t go that bad because I had things to say. It was a very simple task. I didn’t have to memorize anything. Just a small audience. The audience was slightly older people, so they’re not judgmental college students. It was a nice environment as well. It didn’t go that bad. It didn’t go that good. It was just what it was. But what I realized is that after that event, for the next couple of days, I was feeling that something had changed. I was walking a little differently, I was talking a little differently. I realized that when you go on stage—and I think you will vouch for this as well because you’ve done this—even the next few days, that element of being on stage carries forward with it, so if you have a bad stage day, that carries forward as well and you feel low, but if you have a decent or even a good stage day, that carries forward in a very positive direction. I was feeling a little more confident. I’m like, “Okay, this is what confidence might be like.” Then the idea became what if this free information is not helping me, let me try taking more opportunities like this, because I survived this one, let’s try to survive some more.
(24:24) Dr. Doreen Downing
So, you’re saying that the actual stepping back onto a stage and beginning to find your voice, and feeling comfortable, just a teeny bit more comfortable, that’s where you realized that I need to get in front of stages or on stages in front of people. Is that it?
(24:45) Hrideep Barot
Yes. What happened was that when I went on stage—exactly as you said, find your voice—I didn’t find my voice at that point, obviously, but it just made me realize that the fear of public speaking scientifically is irrational. That’s when it made sense to me that I didn’t die when I went on stage. Nothing happened. It was just in me. The fear is just in me. I can do this more. Even if it goes bad, the worst-case scenario is not that bad. It will just be that I mess up a speech or something. That’s what the thought became at that point in time. Of course, there was just the positive thinking, because when I started going on stage more often, I wasn’t trained. My first few speeches and events that I was doing because I was grabbing opportunities as much as I could, and as much as my nervousness allowed me to take on. By one point, I was just taking as much as possible. The first few months were absolutely horrible. The exact opposite feeling came as opposed to that first day, because this time I was speaking to college students. I was speaking to people where you want to maintain a reputation and all of that. I remember this one time. It was a festival that was there. I wasn’t ready for big event., I was just doing small events to get myself used to the stage, but this one festival had 400 people in the auditorium was there. They had called me to host and I didn’t agree to it but my friend [name] pushed me into doing it. He’s like, “No, you know what? Let’s do it. It’s good that he told me, in hindsight,” but when I went on stage at that time, I remember my college crush was in the audience, and when your crush is in the audience, you get much more nervous than you’re supposed to. It’s universal. At that point in time, I realized this is not going to go well, and it did not go well. It was a very bad experience. People came up to me and told me, “Boy, you don’t want hosting this.” That was a very crushing feeling. There were quite a few experiences like that, but then, as I kept doing it a little more, I also joined Toastmasters and everything, where I met most supportive people to help me beat stage fright and anxiety. Even Toastmasters, getting to the before and after video recordings, my first initial speeches are just horrible. In fact, I remember my third speech at Toastmasters, I had blanked out on stage. Again, this was a throwback to that time in school when I blanked out. This time, again, I started speaking, and I just blanked out. All these people are looking at me, and I just said, “Thank you.” I walked off. I remember after the event, no one was really speaking to me or anything like that, because they thought I need to have my own space. Some people came to me and told me, “It’s okay, it happens.” That was a bad time. Then eventually, the progress was taking place, because I did it as much as I could.
(27:58) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, that seems to be your message today. We’re coming to an end, so I want to make sure that what people are hearing from you is that the decision you made to move yourself back to the scary place, which is the stage was what worked for you. A lot of people say, “No, I have to get it all together. I have to learn. I have to go to some speaking training.” I love that you just have this inner drive to take yourself to what scared you and kept standing up, falling down, standing up, falling down until now. Before we get off, please tell me what you’re doing now and how people can find you.
(28:48) Hrideep Barot
I am currently running a company called Frantically Speaking, as you mentioned earlier on. We help working professionals become better communicators and public speakers. The idea is to train people in the skills of public speaking and teach them to apply it in their day-to-day lives. You can find us on our website on franticallyspeaking.com. You can directly book a call with me to understand what services we have, what our training looks like. We have a ton of content that we upload on YouTube, where we try to break down different speeches, different celebrity actions to give you all practical tips on becoming better communicators. Those are a couple of things, and you can subscribe to our email list as well on our website. There’s a newsletter form over there, where we give more exclusive tips around public speaking. Our mission is eventually to become a one-stop shop destination for all things related to stage fright and communications.
(29:49) Dr. Doreen Downing
Wow. It feels like what you’re offering is what you didn’t get way back. You designed something that will serve people that experienced what you experienced early on in life. Well, all of the links will be in the show notes, so that’ll be just fine. I just want to say thank you. I’d like to give you one more opportunity to talk about anything around what comes up about voice having a voice.
(30:23) Hrideep Barot
I would just like to say that when it comes to finding your own voice, communication is always broken up into two parts. One would be the learning part of the techniques. Second would be the actual practical part of doing it. A lot of people find it very hard to get to do the second part. A lot of people read the books and everything around public speaking, communications, and voice. But if anyone out there is trying to find their own voice, just know that the feeling of nervousness, there’s a chance that for a while it might not go away. You have to learn how to expect it and accept it. That’s when we start seeing results taking place.
(31:09) Dr. Doreen Downing
Very wise, Hrideep. Thank you so much.
(31:14) Hrideep Barot
Thank you, Doreen. It was a pleasure doing this and hope I was able to add some value.
Also listen on…
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.