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FEAR OF PUBLIC SPEAKING

Updated: Mar 1


There is no question that overall, the most successful and most powerful people over the centuries have mastered the ability to communicate effectively. In fact, the skill of speaking is so important that it has been formally taught for thousands of years. The ironic feature of public speaking is that while we recognize that it is an important skill to have, many of us do not like or want to give speeches. Or do we?


What I have learned in my years of helping others enhance/develop their public speaking abilities, is that they would like to be able to do just that, stand in front of an audience and speak, however, they don’t because they are afraid to, but they are not afraid of speaking in public, they are afraid of making fools out of themselves, or what other people might think about them...


Most of my past clients have this in common, they’ve confused confidence with ability, and therefore they believe that since they lack confidence, therefore they lack the ability to speak in front of an audience. They fail to recognize that by investing time developing that skill, they will increase their confidence to speak in public, and like anything else, the more you do it, the better you become, confidence = preparation + repetition so, prepare, and practice, practice and then practice some more. Now, we are talking about speaking in front of an audience, or presenting in front of a team, and not necessarily about becoming a professional public speaker, at least not just yet, but it’s a start.


Effective public speaking involves understanding your audience and speaking goals, choosing elements for the speech that will engage your audience with your topic, and delivering your message skillfully, while connecting with them at the emotional level, through personal, relevant, and provoking stories.


THE PERCEIVED FEAR OF PUBLIC SPEAKING:
PREPROGRAMMED - PRODUCT OF OUR OWN ENVIRONMENT- MINDSET

UNDERSTANDING THE PHYSIOLOGY OF FEAR – Fear causes an adrenaline rush and results in the same fight-or-flight response that anger does: your heart rate and breathing quicken, your breathing become shallow, you feel flushed, your muscles tense up, and you feel shaky, and so on. With fear, you might also find that you become dizzy or lightheaded, feel nauseous, and experience chest pain and tightness or heaviness in the chest. The fear response starts in a region of the brain called the amygdala. This leads to bodily changes that prepare us to be more efficient in perceived danger.


A part of the brain called the hippocampus is closely connected with the amygdala. The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex help the brain interpret the perceived threat. They are involved in a higher-level processing of context, which helps a person know whether a perceived threat is real.


MANAGING IT - For instance, seeing a lion in the wild can trigger a strong fear reaction, but the response to a view of the same lion at a zoo is more of curiosity and thinking that the lion is cute. This is because the hippocampus and the frontal cortex process contextual information, and inhibitory pathways dampen the amygdala fear response and its downstream results. Basically, our “thinking” circuitry of the brain reassures our “emotional” areas that we are, in fact, OK.


In the case of public speaking, emotional visualization of a positive outcome as an autosuggestive process could help us activate our thinking circuitry, minimizing our or lessening our perception of that fear while giving us the opportunity to reject the information that is coming to our conscious mind.


MOVING FORWARD, DOING IT AFRAID - So, if you happen to be one of those individuals looking for ways to develop your public speaking skills, here are a few things you can start doing now;

  • Craft a 3 minutes personal story

  • Practice telling that story in front of the mirror for 5 consecutive days

  • Video record yourself telling that story 7 times

  • Watch each video before deleting it

  • Consider hiring a Professional Coach to help you!


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