Daunted in Public Speaking? No more!
Do you come out in a sweat every time you even think about speaking in public? Would you like to learn how to do it better, but currently don’t dare attend a course in case you’re put on the spot or found out? Don’t despair. There IS a way to speak confidently, without going through undue terror and embarrassment.
Three things to be aware of before you start:
First of all, realise that you CAN learn how to speak in public, even if you feel hopeless about it currently. Plenty of other people have gone from feeling like you to performing brilliantly.
Secondly, realise that feeling fearful does NOT mean you’re a failure. Everyone, however famous they are, experiences times that feel important, and get scared. But that doesn’t stop them performing brilliantly. Hear this message loud and clear - you can feel scared AND perform brilliantly.
Third, realise that two sure ways to fail are to avoid the issue (which never works anyway) and to beat yourself up for not facing your fears (which makes you feel bad).
So what can you do? Try the following four super-remedies:
Staying motionless to calm yourself usually doesn’t work. Move your shoulders, shake your arms and hands and wriggle your toes. Walk energetically up and down. Speaking is a physical activity as well as a mental one. Unblock that cramped blocked feeling. Later, you can stand still if you want, while maintaining that alive feeling.
Yes, I know you think you’re already breathing, but you’re not breathing freely whilst you’re all tensed up. Imagine you are about to take a big swing at a golf ball, or are going to kick a ball a long distance: before you do, you naturally take a really good breath. Or imagine you are about to jump into the air – bend your knees, take a giant breath and...
A big breath fills you with energy and confidence. Go straight from that energetic in-breath into speech. Don’t stop after the breath and then speak – that wastes all the good energy of the in-breath. Think/feel, breathe-and-speak.
3. Re-live your good times
Remember times when you felt fine while speaking – maybe talking to a close friend or chatting with mates - times when you felt at ease and your body was comfortable and relaxed. How did you feel then? Become so familiar with that easy feeling that you can return to it at will. Recalling the feeling will give you added confidence and certainty when the pressure is on.
4. Stay present
Finally, in order to feel positive, stay in the here and now. (Negative feelings always come from remembering past bad experience, or fearing future ones). Use your eyes to focus on your external surroundings; use your ears to hear the sounds in the room rather than listening to self-talk in your head; use your sense of touch to feel your feet on the ground rather butterflies inside you. Focusing outwards is a calming and grounding thing to do.
When you focus externally, you appear present to other people, which gives them confidence in you. That’s a major secret of presence, that elusive quality you find in the best speakers.
So, nerves are not the end of the world. I find that those who are most terrified initially often give the most passionate and convincing presentations as the course progresses. Be kind to yourself – this can be you.