I’m convinced that the most popular advice on how to overcome the fear of public speaking…SUCKS!
A couple of months back during a speaking panel I heard “just do it” again from a self-proclaimed (nothing wrong with this by the way!) communications expert.
I think that people who toss out this advice simply don’t remember what it was like when they started, which means they can no longer relate to a timid new speaker.
And “new speaker” is pushing it. At this event there were two guys that had been in Toastmasters (a sort of workshop to become a better speaker) for over two years and they were still fighting their nerves. Meaning, they had plenty of experiences but weren’t cured.
This was a HUGE validation for what I’m doing. I know exactly what those two guys were going through.
One of the panelists even had trouble understanding their questions relating to fear. And this particular panelist was harping about how four years prior he was scared to death of public speaking. I believe it. But he seemed to be on a different planet from where these two individuals were, based on the advice he was dishing out.
“Just do it” is oversimplified. Frankly, I think it belittles the seriousness of the problem that affects so many—by not giving it the attention it deserves. It’s a process rather than a flip of a switch. On the other hand, there’s just too much going on in the mind of a new speaker to be able to implement overly complicated techniques…at least at first.
Don’t misunderstand, though. Experience is NECESSARY. But experience alone is insufficient for the new speaker.
You’ll need experience, yes, but you’ll also need to test different techniques to be able to control your fears. Basically, it’s a construction job and the goal is to build your own system for calming nerves…and then be able to run through it on command.
Here are some raw resources to pull from that you can use to construct yours:
- A reason WHY you are speaking
- Belief in yourself or self-confidence (just as important outside of speaking situations)
- Ways to motivate yourself (music, inspirational quotes, inspirational stories, etc.)
- Mechanical steps for calming yourself down physically when fear triggers your “fight or flight” mechanism – This includes breathing and relaxation techniques
- Logical triggers for putting the situation into perspective (logic reinforcers [“it’s just talking to friends”], visualizations, reframing the situation, etc.)
The cool thing about this is that we’re all different. You may only need ONE of these in order to control speaking anxiety. And as far as how long it takes, some may only need a month to create their “system;” others may take longer. Doesn’t matter. What is important is that you get over this fear, because it’s costing you opportunities in life.
So, remember, there’s more to it than “just do it.”
Are you ready to overcome your fear in 2017?
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