How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking
The shaky voice, the red face, the horrible sensation of anxiety rising up and choking off access to your thoughts… Fear of public speaking is an incredibly common, and powerful, disruptive force affecting the lives of millions on a daily basis. It can cause students to pursue academic pathways not out of interest, but out of avoidance of presentation. It causes professionals to avoid chasing the promotion, taking the lead in meetings, and sending emails instead of making calls or meeting with clients face to face.
Essentially, the fear of public speaking causes people to make habitual, fear induced decisions which will continuously impact their lives in a negative manner. Fortunately, overcoming the fear of public speaking is easier than you might think, and the solution doesn’t require expensive therapy, or adrenaline blocking medication, for most of us, it simply requires flipping how we associate public speaking to ourselves internally. Read on and discover a few of the most important public speaking tips that can help you overcome your fear of public speaking without having to leave the comfort of your own home.
1. Saying YES.
Stop saying no to opportunity! People are presented with opportunity to better their lives on a daily basis. Whether it’s a boss providing you the opportunity to meet with a high profile client, a group who needs a speaker in class, or a client offering the chance to come in and present to their office, it’s far easier to say “No, let someone else do it” or “No, I’m not the right person for that” than it is to simply say “Yes”.
Saying “no” becomes a habitual reaction that people develop as a calming mechanism. They become so caught up in avoiding what they perceive as potential failure, that success, or improvement within their personal or professional life, is not even given the chance occur. Training yourself to say “yes” to legitimate opportunities, even if you’re afraid, will enable you to cut off the fear at its first opportunity the limit your potential and open up doors you never dreamed of approaching.
2. Get over it!
A common practice within speech therapy is to have patients relive negative experiences, moment by moment, with the idea that in acknowledging and facing the past, the patient will unearth the cause of the fear and be able to move past it. This is the biggest possible mistake you can make when overcoming a fear. Reliving negative situations or bad experiences associated with speaking gives them power, presence and control in your mind. Remember, you’re in control of how you perceive your thoughts!
Say you’ve had a bad experience with public speaking, most of us have. Is it going to make you feel better to draw up all the thoughts, feelings and emotions that led to your bad experience? Absolutely not. In fact, this would be an excellent way to put yourself right back into the physical and emotional state that caused your slip up in the first place, and a great first step to ensuring it happens again. Instead, do the opposite and GET OVER IT. If the memory of that particular event happens to enter into your thoughts, try the following. Take the all the negative thoughts, emotions and visuals contained in that memory, don’t relive them, just picture them as an object, like a black and white postcard, in your mind. Next, take that post card and slowly shrink it down in size within your mind. Picture it getting smaller and smaller. You’ll begin to notice, as the postcard of that memory shrinks within your mind, just how much better you feel. With each passing moment as the memory shrinks and fades away, you’ll feel an overwhelming sense of relief and lightness. When the image of the postcard gets so small you can barely see it, pop it out of existence within your mind. This simple exercise will tell your brain exactly how much power to give to this memory –none. Do this with any negative associations you have with speaking and notice how that with each passing day, as you spend less and less time worrying about past failures and mistakes, how much better you feel and how much more time you have to focus on future success and accomplishments.
3. Accentuate the POSITIVE.
Just as freeing yourself from the power and control of negative thoughts and memories will lead to a better and more resourceful state of mind, accentuating positive memories and thoughts will enhance that state and embolden you towards success even further. It might sound corny, but accentuating positive memories, thoughts and feelings WILL help you feel better about speaking.
Take the exercise of shrinking away a negative memory and popping it out of existence, and try the opposite with a positive one. Take a memory where you were extremely successful, a time where you were on fire (not literally, unless you’re a successful stunts person…). Take that memory and blow it up in your mind. Instead of visualizing it far away and distant, expand it and step back inside that world. Make the colors bright, cheerful and happy. Look at the smiles, laughter, applause and pride of those around you. Breathe in the warmth, joy and happiness around you. Let those feelings wash over you and spread throughout your body. Tell your brain exactly how much power to give those feelings –lots.
This exercise doesn’t just apply for positive memories; it also applies to positive projections of future success. Create those vivid, warm, exciting scenarios in your mind and apply them to speaking. Imagine the applause, the smiles, and the satisfaction after absolutely nailing a speech, meeting or presentation.
Use this three easy tips and overcome the fear of public speaking!
Through utilizing these public speaking tips, and public speaking exercises, you’ll practice saying “yes” to opportunity, removing negative speech associations and robbing them of their power, and creating vivid, positive speaking associations. This will enable you to go after those opportunities and be in the state where you know you’ll succeed. Practice these methods on a daily basis and you’re on a sure fire path to overcoming the fear of public speaking, and always remember you’re in control of how you perceive your fears, not the other way round.