7 Strategies to Help You Overcome the Fear of Getting Visible

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Photographer and personal brand strategist. I'm on a mission to help you get visible in your business with genuine confidence. 

Meet Vicki

I have 7 tools and strategies to share with you to help you deal with your fear of getting visible, and the game-changing strategy I use before I do something that makes me feel nervous.

You can listen below to the latest episode of my podcast, Showing Up with Vicki Knights, where I share these 7 strategies.

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You know logically that visibility is necessary in order for you to market your business and attract the right clients.

But in your body, it feels scary. And it is scary let’s face it. Getting visible is a journey of self-development, you have to do lots of reflection and unravel and rewrite the stories and the conditioning that keep you small. Many of us carry ingrained beliefs and narratives likes ‘nobody likes a show off’, ‘don’t be too big for your boots’ or ‘nice girls don’t brag’.  These messages are often absorbed from a young age and then when we have to show up online and sell our work, it can feel like unsafe and like something we shouldn’t be doing.

But you have something brilliant to offer your clients and you need to get your work and message to the people who need it.

To achieve this, we need to balance our desire to be seen and heard with our fear of exposure. We must delve into the complexities of becoming visible and address the obstacles that keep us hidden and small.

So in my latest podcast episode, I share 7 tools and strategies that you can use to help you overcome the fears you have about getting visible. I also have a free visibility guide with 8 more insights to help you get visible with more confidence.

Also come and follow me on Instagram @iamvickiknights for lots more visibility tips and inspiration.

visibility speaker

1. Know That Fear Will Always Be Along for the Ride

The title of this post might be a little misleading because I’m not here to tell you that you can conquer your fears for good. Fear will always be there. One of the reasons I started my new podcast was to have authentic chats with inspiring business owners who, on the surface, might seem like they’ve always been courageous and confident. But I want to show you that everyone has these fears.

After photographing amazing women over the past 15 years, I’ve seen that we all have our hang-ups and fears of showing up. When you have fears, it just means you’re growing and doing courageous things. The aim here isn’t to be fearless. It’s about learning to work with your fears and taking courageous action despite them. It’s not about conquering them completely; it’s about accepting that they’ll always be there. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, they’re in the back seat, not driving the car.

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic, beautifully describes how fear will always be with us. She likens it to a backseat driver. Fear is there but it doesn’t get to make decisions or touch the steering wheel. Accepting that fear is a natural part of the journey can reduce its power over you. It’s about acknowledging fear’s presence but not letting it dictate your actions. We need fear to keep us safe. You can probably think of times when fear has helped or even saved your life. But when it comes to getting visible and showing up online, fear can take over and tell us it’s not safe. We need to learn to work with the fears and realise that visibility can feel scary, but we can do it (and I can help you to do it with genuine confidence!)


2. Make Your Purpose Bigger Than Your Fear

When your purpose and passion are larger than your fear, they naturally overshadow it. Think about why you started your business. Who are you trying to help? What change do you want to make in the world? Focusing on your mission can give you the courage to step out and be seen. Stop making it so much about you and make it about them instead.

When your purpose and passion are larger than your fear, they naturally overshadow it. Reflect on why you started your business and who you aim to help. Focusing on the impact you want to make can give you the courage to step out and be seen. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about the people you are trying to help.


3. Recognise What Makes You Special

Understanding and embracing your unique qualities can boost your confidence. You need to get deep clarity on what makes you different and special in order to feel in control of the fears you have about getting visible. Clarity breeds confidence. That’s why I created my self-paced online course ‘Uncover your Magic,’ – I help you to uncover exactly what makes you special and identify what sets you apart. You create your own personal brand pyramid, which is a one-page document that you can refer back to regularly to boost your confidence and remind you what makes you so brilliant.

Another powerful thing you can do to remind you just how brilliant you are at what you do is creating a ‘Kindness Folder’ – a collection of positive feedback and kind words you’ve received. Create a folder on your phone or inbox where you can save everything lovely that is said about you. This concept aligns with Barbara Fredrickson’s work on positivity, as detailed in her book Positivity. Fredrickson’s research shows that positive emotions broaden our mindset and build our psychological resources over time. By regularly revisiting the kind words and positive feedback in your Kindness Folder, you can reinforce a positive self-image and cultivate a mindset that embraces challenges with a can-do attitude.


4. Move Your Body

Physical movement is a powerful tool to manage fear. Exercise can calm your nervous system, reduce stress, and increase your overall sense of well-being. This is supported by research showing that physical activity can help regulate anxiety and mood. We spoke about this in the last episode of my podcast with Suzy Reading. As I said in that chat, I can always tell when I haven’t moved my body during the day, as my confidence reduces. Just choose the movement that works for you and makes you feel good. I try to move my body for an hour each day. Sometimes that involves sweating it out in the gym; sometimes it’s a gentle walk and some stretching. I just listen to my body on the day and what feels best. Find the type of movement that works for you.


5. Welcome Failure and See Visibility as an Experiment

Rather than thinking you have to get it right all the time, think about visibility as an experiment. You don’t have to have everything perfect or all of your ducks in a row before you start sharing. I have definitely been guilty of overthinking my content in the past, but remember that people love hearing about the messy middle. In fact, generally, people want to hear about how you’re doing something rather than seeing the polished finished result. So if you’re still training or you’re still getting clarity, share that. And embrace failure as a crucial part of the learning process. When you see visibility as an experiment, each failure becomes data, not a disaster. If you share a post and you don’t get much engagement on it, just think about why that might have been and try again. This growth mindset encourages you to learn and improve rather than fear mistakes.


6. Gently Expand Your Comfort Zone

You don’t need to make giant leaps out of your comfort zone – in fact, please don’t do that! If you leap too far out of your visibility comfort zone, it just results in your nervous system going into overdrive and you might find yourself wanting to hide under a rock for months afterwards.

Small, consistent steps are just as effective and will get you to the same end goal but in a much gentler, more sustainable way. Think of courage as a muscle that strengthens with use. Just as you wouldn’t start with the heaviest weights in the gym as you’ll probably injure yourself, you build up to it gradually. Don’t push yourself too far too fast. If you’ve never spoken in public, I wouldn’t recommend starting with an audience of hundreds. Start with smaller audiences until it feels much more comfortable. Keep gently expanding your comfort zone and building that courage muscle.


7. Reframe Your Fear into Excitement

This is the thing that completely changed the game for me when it comes to public speaking. In my 20s and 30s, I used to be really nervous before speaking in public. I had all the classic symptoms: butterflies, sweaty palms, you name it. I tried deep breathing to calm down but it never worked – and it often made things worse!

Then I discovered something that changed everything: fear and excitement feel almost the same in our bodies and we have the same physiological response to them. Both make your heart race and adrenaline pump. So I started telling myself that those nerves were actually excitement. Instead of saying ‘I’m so nervous,’ I began saying ‘I’m so excited!’ And guess what? It worked.

I spoke in public at photography conferences a few times before the pandemic and I was always so nervous before. Then I hadn’t done any public speaking to more than around 10 people for over 4 years. Recently, I did two visibility talks—one to a room of 100 people—and I tried out this strategy of telling myself how excited I was and it worked. I felt calm and in control, which is so different from how I used to feel just a few years ago. Here is a photo of me at my talk in front of an audience of 100 people.

speaker on visibility

Turns out there’s research to back this up. Alison Wood Brooks from Harvard Business School found that reframing anxiety as excitement helps people perform better in stressful tasks. So next time you’re about to step on stage, try saying ‘I’m excited!’ – it’s a game-changer.

This study found that an overwhelming majority of people believed trying to calm down is the best way to cope with pre-performance anxiety, which is exactly what I was trying to do without success. However, across several studies involving karaoke singing, public speaking, and exams, Wood-Brooks investigated an alternative strategy: reappraising anxiety as excitement. Compared to those who attempted to calm down, individuals who reappraised their anxiety as excitement felt more excited and performed better. This study found that individuals can reappraise anxiety as excitement using strategies such as self-talk (e.g., saying “I am excited” out loud) or simple messages (e.g., “get excited”), which lead them to feel more excited and adopt an opportunity mindset (as opposed to a threat mindset) and then improve their performance.

I like to call it ‘nerve-cited.’ I’ve heard Glennon Doyle call it ‘skited.’ Just call it whatever works for you. So next time you are about to step out of your comfort zone and get visible, whether it’s when you next share a video of you on Instagram, have your next photo shoot, or speak on stage try reframing your nerves as excitement.

Overcoming the fear of getting visible is a constant journey, and it’s never done. I still feel the fear 15 years after starting my business, and it just shows me that I’m growing and doing brave things. Hopefully, these 7 strategies have given you some tools to help you work with the fears you have about being more visible.

Remember, the goal isn’t to eliminate fear but to learn to work with it and take courageous action despite it. You have something brilliant to offer your clients, and it’s essential to get your work and your message to the people who need it.


personal branding strategistAbout Vicki Knights

Vicki Knights is a visibility strategist, positive psychology practitioner and personal branding photographer. Her mission is to help big-hearted business owners be get visible with genuine confidence. Check out her top-rated podcast, Showing Up with Vicki Knights.