In talking to one of my clients the other day she shared with me her fear of speaking out at meetings, introducing herself within a work group and worst of all making a workplace presentation. She said “I would rather die than have to speak to a group of people”. When I asked what happens to her she described in detail how her heart rate increases to the extent she can feel every beat, her hands drip with water and she shakes, with a voice that is soft and trembling. She has at times felt the trickle of water down her leg that really confirms that she is not good at this at all.
Many people fear speaking in public for example at a communal event, group of or a gathering. For these people speaking in public can really increase anxiety and elevate fear which is irrational as it is only within them and becomes distorted through the pictures in one’s mind.
Irrational or not the physical and emotional response is real, very real and it can decrease the confidence and self-image of the highest paid Executive or the Frontline Manager who is just having to address their staff as a group.
A little anticipation can be healthy but when it becomes full on anxiety, well then you have a problem. The problem with fear of public speaking is that it can run over into your personal life. There may be events or situations that you just avoid due to fear. Leaving you regretting that opportunity to express how you feel or tell of the information that you know well, that others would enjoy. You know that people are not their behaviours so public speaking can prompt a behaviour that has not been previously seen by others (including themselves) and this can have some serious internal effects such as low self-esteem, lack of confidence when normally they are confident and clear.
People compare themselves to others, comparing the outside of someone they see to the inside emotion they personally feel and then the limiting beliefs begin. “Oh I can’t do it like them!” “Hmm but they have done it for years”. These are the blocks in the way that prevent you from doing it.
Speaking in public is an art and a science and for some there is nothing better that letting the inner actor pop out at that moment when you are speaking to a captive audience.
A client once told me when they were about to present confident and prepared, even excited; then they threw me a throwaway line of “Oh I am so nervous!” Stunned I checked in with them. “What are you nervous about?” They replied “Oh I just said that ‘cos that is what you say isn’t it?”
This made me think of the social norm that we have created around public speaking, that everyone should be nervous or dread it. I don’t think so! When you have your nerves in check, your internal representation congruent and of course you know your subject then public speaking can be a really rewarding and heartfelt experience.
If you feel the anxiety here are a few tips to start you on your way to anxiety free speaking:
- List three ways that not reducing but eliminating public speaking anxiety will positively impact your personal life and career?
- Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen?
- What and when is that you decided that you are not good as a public speaker?
- What will you get if you are able to speak without anxiety?
- What will you not get if you don’t get rid of the anxiety?
If you were to set yourself a challenge so tough that when you achieve it you will know that you can do anything; then would it be to conquer the skill of public speaking without fear or anxiety?