Fear of Public Speaking
In nationwide surveys, one of the chart topping fears of all times is the fear of public speaking which is second only to fear of snakes and dying. Consider all the things there are that you can be afraid of and know that public speaking fear beats that. Does this tell you something about public speaking? People would rather face pestilence, disease, injury, the dentist, or even an angry, rabid dog than give a public speech. People would rather do anything than appear foolish in front of others.
That dreaded fear sets off a physical chain reaction in the body. Prior to speaking, the anticipation of being on the spot causes the stomach to clench, breathing becomes shallow, and the heart races. When the speaker begins talking, their voice may tremble, legs or body may shake, or they may speak too quickly. The physical reactions to public speaking can be humiliating and embarrassing in front of others. Is it any wonder people would rather risk life and limb than public speak? But a better question is how do you get past these reactions to public speaking? It is possible to overcome these reactions.
Don't embarrassed if you are afraid of public speaking. Know that it is a normal reaction. There are certain physical responses to big moments in our lives that are triggered by adrenaline. High levels of adrenaline cause anxiety, a quickened heart rate, feeling hot and sweaty, and tightening of the muscles in the body. To overcome this response, it is important to realize that this is a natural reaction and that you need to take charge of the upcoming big moment to minimize these affects.
Being prepared for a public speech will alleviate high levels of anxiety if remain in control. If you know what you will be talking about and how you will be saying it because you are prepared, much of your nervousness will be alleviated. However, waiting until the last minute and not practicing will make you much more nervous.
Practicing your speech prior to giving it builds familiarity, confidence, and a knowledge base of what you will say and how. Being prepared for a speech reduces anxiety and fear. Once you are ready to speak, take a moment at the podium, get centered, and deliberately calm and ground yourself. Overcoming these obstacles makes public speaking less dreadful and more of an opportunity to entertain others.
Begin With the End In Mind
How you see yourself as a public speaker is essential. Imagine that you are poised, delivering an articulate, well-organized, well-received speech to an audience you love and who loves you in return. The results are that your body will not react to the idea of the speech because it has been conditioned to believe that it is a pleasant, enjoyable experience.
You May Be Nervous, But You Hide It Well
If you do a great job of faking not being nervous, at some point, you will no longer be nervous. By pretending not to be nervous, you are teaching your body how to react under the conditions associated with public speaking. With repeated practice, it will assume this disposition each time public speaking situations are encountered.
What If I Make a Mistake?
If you mispronounce a word, stumble momentarily, or forget what you are going to say next, then it is what you do afterwards this is important. Pause, think, and self-correct. Self-correcting your mistake will rectify the situation in the minds of your audience members. They know that people make mistakes, but they want them to correct their mistakes before moving on and then all is well. Don't feel as if you have failed if you make a mistake. Forgive yourself and fix it. The fear of public speaking can be conquered if you take control.
Boost Your Speaking Confidence Through Improv - Our guest post at the Six Minutes blog on using Improv games to improve your public speaking confidence.
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