5 Steps to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

In the previous post I promised that I would share 5 points that will help you overcome your fear of public speaking.

Re-directing negativity into positive thinking will have a profound effect on how you view that inevitable occasion when you hear those previously dreaded words.  ” … and now ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce ….!”

  1. First accept that this feeling is not unique to you.  Most people who aspire to be speakers have to deal with it and successful speakers will readily admit that they use the anxiety to work for them.  More on that in a moment.
  2. Learn to recognise the difference between ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’ and ‘nerves’.
  3. Question yourself as to why you have this fear.  Is it a new and unknown experience for you?  Is it based on a previus embarassing situation?  Is it through a popular conception that more people fear public speaking than death?
  4. Change your perspective.  Concentrate on your audience, not on yourself.
  5. Use the initial reaction to being asked to make a presentation as a ‘Yellow Alert’ that is telling you to do something about it, i.e. start preparing for it!

As this is a very real and serious problem for many people, it is worth spending a few minutes to think about the 5 points highlighted above and think about how they may affect us as individuals.

1. You are not Unique!

“So what”,  you say,  “how does that help me?”  In this way.  If you can realise that almost every speaker, from beginner to professional experiences some degree of ‘nerves’ when faced with making a presentation, then you may accept that  it is a part of the process, or, to use an expression – ‘it comes with the job!’   So don’t be dismayed when the anxiety sets in, just be determined to put it to use.

Apart from the sinking feeling in the stomach, fear, nerves or anxiety also produces other effects in the mind and body.  Your mind, after what may be an initial panic stage, will become sharper and more focused. Your body will supply reserves of energy and respond to your breathing control. If you have practised diligently, you will go into ‘presentation mode’ which will affect your posture, your facial expression and your concentrationn levels so that you forget ‘you’ and become the ‘communicator’.

2.     Fear, Anxiety and Nerves.

These three words are linked together and their definitions become a little blurred in most dictionaries.  For example ‘fear’ is defined as ‘suffering anxiety’, anxiety is shown as ‘having a degree of fear’ and ‘nerves’ are, ‘the bodies reaction to fear or anxiety’!

Each expression, however indicates a feeling of apprehension about what we think may happen.  If we have a ‘fear’ of speaking in front of an audience (of any size), we have a choice. We can allow that fear to stop us in our tracks, or we can put it aside and go ahead with our preparation and discover that during our research and practice it will lessen, until it becomes ‘anxiety’, which should encourage us to do the best we can to do a good job.  When we arrive at the venue, that anxiety or apprehension will turn into ‘nerves’, which we can channel into excitement and energy to produce a successful presentation.  Believe me and stay with me as we progress through the following posts and I will prove that it works!

3. Why The Fear?

Most of us have some trepidation about a new experience, but if we allow that to stop us, we would never do anything new and never progress in our lives. If you think about it we only grow as a person by continually, ‘doing some thing new’.

Have we had a bad experience in the past? May be we ‘messed up’ on a presentation and it left us with embarassing memories. OK, so that was then. Now you have the opportunity to redress that situation and with some work and help from your coach prove that you can do it successfully!

It is an often quoted joke attributed to Jerry Seinfeld that reinforces the conception that, “I’d rather die than give a Public Talk!”  The comedian used the situation to quip, “If that’s true, it would mean that most people at a funeral would rather be in the casket, than giving the eulogy!”  Of course if you think about it rationally, that just isn’t true, nobody wants to die that bad!  The fear is spread by people who have no idea how to start preparing for a talk and imagine the worst scenario.

4.  Change your perspective.

The fear is usually about yourself; will I make a fool of myself, will I be able to handle the audience, will I have a mental blackout, will I live up to expectations ….? and etc.  Once you start concentrating on what you have to give and how you can benefit others, you shift your focus away from yourself and toward your listener.

5.   Yellow Alert.

Use the anxiety as a self motivator. Once you know that with enough research, concise and usable notes, repeated practice and some coaching, you will perform at your best, set time aside and start your preparation – don’t procrastinate!  The longer you put it off, the less time you will have and the stronger the fear will be – a recipe for disaster!  Make it your goal to give your very best and in the following posts we will share how to do it step by step.

 

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