If you want to get ahead in your career and fulfil your potential, you need to master the art of public speaking. You need to be able to clearly articulate your message, engage and inspire others and speak with confidence about what you do.
This is true even if you don’t plan to give a formal presentation or get up on stage to present a TED talk.
Unfortunately, fear of public speaking (or glossophobia as it is formally known) causes otherwise talented, motivated and highly driven individuals like you to hit that ceiling because they don’t have these essential soft skills their industry needs.
If you are one of the many people who fear public speaking, you may feel like you are overlooked in the workplace and are ignored when it comes to promotions, and you avoid pushing yourself to achieve your best because that fear is always there.
What causes this fear of public speaking, and how can we overcome our nerves, become influential public speakers and start grabbing our career opportunities with both hands? Let’s have a closer look.
Why are so many of us afraid of public speaking?
According to a 1999 study, a surprising 77% of people feel anxious, nervous or even afraid of public speaking. While many can control their nerves effectively, others find that it becomes a full-blown phobia.
These feelings are always based on fear. We’re afraid that we’ll say something stupid or embarrassing, forget what we want to say, feel self-conscious or that we won’t be able to hide our nerves and that our audience will notice the truth. Perhaps we previously had a negative experience with public speaking, which planted that seed of doubt in our heads, and now we’re afraid that the same will happen again.
But as you’ll know all too well, if you’ve ever felt those butterflies in your stomach as you prepare to speak, it’s not only psychological- our bodies also react to the fear.
This triggers your autonomic nervous system to kick into action and respond to what it perceives as a threat, and it gives us all those physical symptoms of fear such as a dry mouth, shaking, high blood pressure, nausea, and so on.
Let’s recap. You experienced those thoughts that you were going to mess up or make a fool of yourself by speaking in public. The experience turned to fear, which triggered those horrible, uncomfortable and even debilitating physical sensations and left us feeling worse than ever. We’re unable to focus, more likely to make mistakes, forget what we’re saying and quite understandable, and start avoiding these kinds of situations.
Breaking free from this cycle of fear
As you may have noticed, the whole cycle of fear mentioned above starts with your thoughts and beliefs, or in other words, your mindset. It is all that stands between you and becoming a successful public speaker. Learn to master your mindset, and you can become an engaging, inspiring public speaker who feels comfortable in front of a crowd.
The fastest and most effective way to break is this cycle is to invest in yourself and work with an experienced coach to guide you and help you manage your nervousness and step into your best self when it comes to speaking in front of others.
As an experienced coach who has worked with thousands of leaders (and someone who used to feel extremely nervous about speaking in public, I can provide you with the support and guidance you need. Let’s make a time to chat about how I can help you.
You can also use the A-B-C Technique to help you deal with your fear of public speaking.
1. Accept that your feelings are normal
The feelings associated with nervousness, including racing heart, shallow breathing, sweating, trembling and so on, are part of the classic fight, flight or freeze response. It’s a normal physiological response to stress (real or perceived). When you feel this, it means you have a functioning body that is doing its job.
Instead of trying to fight those feelings as they enter your body, simply acknowledge and accept what’s going on.
2. Breathe: use the square breathing technique
There are a couple of simple and effective breathing techniques that are of great help when you are waiting to speak, and you can feel the tension rise in your body.
Here is the Square Breathing Technique. It’s an effective tool to regulate your breathing, get you to focus and make sure your breath out is complete.
- Imagine a square frame around your head and shoulders.
- Start at any corner.
- Trace with your finger or with your mind along each side.
- Breathe in on the count of 4 (one side of the square)
- Hold your breath for the count of 4 (one side of the square)
- Breathe out to the count of 4 (one side of the square)
- Hold to the count of 4 (one side of the square)
- Each side of the square and each breath and hold has equal time.
3. Change your mindset
Instead of thinking of public speaking as something to be feared, think of it as an opportunity to serve.
Every time you step up and speak, you are there to serve, to share your knowledge and wisdom with others.
It’s not about you. You are the medium, and the message is the crucial thing.
Instead of public speaking, think of it as public-serving.
By mastering your mindset and using proven strategies to control your fear and improve your public speaking skills, you can become an engaging, inspiring and confident communicator who exceeds their expectations and gets the promotions they deserve.
As a qualified Neurolinguisitic Programing Practioner and Speaker Coach, I have a range of practical tools and strategies that have helped hundreds of people conquer a fear of public speaking.
If you are ready to get over being afraid of speaking and you want to forge ahead with high-level public speaking, then lets chat.
About the author
Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor.
She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations.
If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.
Here’s how I may help you
My services include:
Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories.
Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.
Tailored Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories.
Keynote/Guest Speaking either in person or via virtual means at your next conference or event.