You have probably experienced the fear of public speaking. You get up to present before a group and your heart starts racing. Maybe your face flushes or your stomach jumps. Your breathing changes and you forget what you want to say. There are literally hundreds of “signals” that are brought on by your fear. You are not alone because being afraid of public speaking is the one of the biggest fears people have.
What can you do to get past the feelings and sensations that seem to cripple you and present communication barriers? Thankfully, there are plenty of empowering steps you can take.
First, it’s helpful to understand the underlying cause of the discomfort resulting from your fear of public speaking. When your mind senses danger, the part of your brain called the amygdala gets triggered. Your amygdala can only choose between two fear responses: 1) Fight with fists or words or 2) Flight, which urges you to run for your life. All the symptoms you experience are simply the body readying you for either reaction.
You might not be able to immediately stop the symptoms but you can change how you look at them. The biggest problem when your heart races, face flushes, and you forget your words, is that it starts a cycle that increases your anxiety.
Cognitive reframing is a technique that helps you feel more positive about an experience like public speaking. Here’s a great example. Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Because you were excited, you might have experienced some of the same symptoms such as heart racing and butterflies in your stomach because you were excited. The signals for excitement and fear are virtually the same!
You can learn how to identify your fear responses and reframe them as excitement rather than danger to break this problematic cycle. One effective method is to think to yourself, or to say out loud, “Oh, my heart is racing because I’m excited to speak to this group.” That is how reframing the situation works, and a powerful way to overcome barriers to communication and public speaking.
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right.” Use reframing to begin the process of managing your fear of public speaking and opening new doors that come from this building this skill.
Download four additional tips to get past your fear of public speaking.
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—STEPHANIE HAINLEY, Chief Operating Officer, White and Burke
It’s time to resolve your fear of public speaking with Laurie’s proven, yet simple strategies and then build your presentations skills. Her interactive, content-rich programs are peppered with stories and humor to help your people develop and hone their communication skills.
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