When it’s your turn to speak publicly, does your heart start pounding? Do you break out in a cold sweat? Is there a puddle of perspiration at your feet?
If so, it’s time to overcome your fear of speaking.
People who allow fear to consume them, never maximize their career potential and self-esteem.
Consider the insights of Amy and Eric Stone.
Mr. Stone has long been my go-to expert on public speaking. He’s a former New York City stage and television actor.
He and his wife operate Speakers and Artists International, Inc. (www.publicspeakingconnection.com)
They remind us of a Jerry Seinfeld joke: “…at funerals, most people would rather be in the coffin than giving a speech.”
To overcome fear of speaking, here are their seven recommendations:
Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Sigmund Freud pointed out something fascinating: he said that it is anxiety that produces repression.
Anxiety is a repressive mechanism initiated by the projection of a past trauma or a fear of trauma onto a current situation.
When we are scared and there is no actual physical danger present, we are in a state of projection.
When we are afraid to speak publicly, we subconsciously project onto the audience what we believe is “off” or “detestable” about ourselves.
We are projecting into the present or the future what we believe is the worst thing that could ever happen or has happened to us earlier in life.
Our mind is having a field day with it; hallucination is the correct psychological term here.
Mind is always fear based at some level as it keeps scanning for danger and analyzes all situations, people and contents of situations, such as circumstances, from that perspective.
It is very useful to know. Our survival instincts and intuitions are always present wherever we are.
Our senses are alive and unfortunately our minds make up “stuff” that does not exist in the moment.
Mind scans circumstances from a fear-based perspective when we are on stage – after all the stage represents our most ancient ancestral fears.
The stage is also originally a religious and ceremonious tradition deeply rooted in our fears of the unknown, the underworld and Gods. It is a very deep phenomenon.
Conversely and somewhat ironically the stage “today” grants us the freedom to step back and observe or contain what is happening to us.
The very first thing to do is to recognize that you are in your mind, meaning that your specific thoughts about what you “think” is happening have taken you hostage.
Ownership and accountability go a very long way in cases like these. It is a huge step! Emotion is “energy in motion” and so is anxiety or pressure. If you deny or resist it, it will intensify.
The mind knows how to “emotionalize” our thoughts, don’t be seduced by that or you will lose your clarity and intentionality.
The second thing to do is to check back in your body. The body knows if danger is real or not. If you took a trip in the past or the future, breathe into it and begin to see with your senses, not your mind, that now is the time to come back and touch ground again.
Realize that your mind will keep “projecting” and that there is nothing you can do about it, except own it and contain it.
Shake hands with someone before you go on stage or before you begin your speech. Touch objects such as furniture, the podium, a glass or bottle…anything that belongs to the physical world.
The physical world is NOW, for it brings us back and anchors our performances. Gravity, balance and breathing are your best friends when things get a bit scary.
Feel the weight of your body, breathe deeply several times consciously, and realize that the mind should only operate in the background at the service of your body and of your performance.
From the Coach’s Corner, here are more speaking tips:
Public Speaking Tips – for Speeches in Accepting Awards, Honors — So you’re about to be honored for your pro bono work, volunteerism, or for creating a foundation to fund scholarships for education. But you get stage fright or don’t know how to most-effectively frame your acceptance speech? Join the crowd. A lot of people have difficulty in public speaking.
Public Speaking: How to Earn Loyalty, Trust from Your Audience — For success in giving a speech, you must be able to bond with your audience. How? If you use a simple technique you can earn loyalty and trust with your audience members. Many speakers, however, overlook using the technique.
Success in Public Speaking Stems from Being Natural…Here’s How — Ever notice how some public speakers perform flawlessly? How they seem to be authentic, natural speakers? Our thought processes prevent us from becoming natural speakers, says Eric Stone, a leading expert in how to improve communication with others, public speaking and performance.
Maximize Your Speaking with the Power of Pauses — Have you ever noticed why some people succeed as powerful public speakers? One salient reason is they know how to use the power of pauses.
How to Obtain the Most Profit from Speaking Opportunities — A strategic consultant to technology and media shares her secrets to making the most of your opportunities from a speaking event.