Can’t you get over your fear of Public Speaking? Do you find yourself with sweaty palms at the mere invitation of a Zoom meeting? Can you think of nothing worse than going live on Instagram? Maybe the thought of showing your face on Stories is only shadowed by your nightmare of being in front of a real audience delivering a TeD talk.
If you are nodding yes to these in your head, and just reading them is making your heart race, then you, my friend, are amongst 73% of the population in your Fear of Public Speaking.
Ahead of death, spiders and heights, fear of Public Speaking is the number one fear recorded!
Which means that you are not alone, but also, that it is a researched subject and there are already proven techniques to help you overcome your fears!
Today I’d like to talk about 2 techniques to help you overcome your Fear of Public Speaking.
One practical on the spot tip, and another that will help you in the long run.
The first practical tip I recommend is breathing.
Now, yes I know that we, as human beings, as inhabitants of planet earth, are already pretty much nailing the breathing department. I mean, we can do it in our sleep! But for the times when you feel yourself getting anxious and nervous about a situation, especially turning on a camera and having to speak about a specific topic (even if you’re an expert at said topic), our breathing actually hinders us.
Your breathing becomes shallow, faster, and it triggers the fight/flight response in our bodies.
Of course, that is a super helpful body response, when we are actually in danger: the oxygen is led to the extremities of our bodies, where we need the power to either fight the threat, or run as fast as we can to safety, our senses are heightened, and we are ready to take on the threat.
But when all we have to do is talk in front of a group of people, online or in real life, that response is slightly overreacting and we can help our bodies to actually calm down.
Now, the exercise is super simple: you just focus on your breathing, close your eyes and inhale to your diaphragm slowly and exhale slowly. Do this in counts of 4 (5 if you’re really going for it!) Trust me, even the NHS teaches you how to do this!
Breathing to/from our diaphragm is actually what’s natural to us: just watch a baby sleep, or lie yourself down and see where the air is naturally going to. It’s going further down, deeper, than our upper chests. Breathing higher is like trying to fill a bottle of water from the top up: it’s not easy nor natural (I dare say impossible also, but that’s a whole other physics subject).
If you’ve never thought about your breathing (I mean, when do we reeeally have to, right?), you may find it easier to actually lay down and place one hand on your tummy, and another on your upper chest. Naturally the air will be going to the lower part of your abdomen, but if you notice it being stubborn and go to the higher part, consciously breathe into the softer part of your chest.
Now when you’re upright, of course, the breathing goes onto your whole chest, your lungs expand in various directions and even your sides participate in the breathing. Isn’t the body wonderful? But when we’re anxious/nervous, we tend to breathe rapidly and to the upper chest area, which is not very calming to the nervous system.
Another exercise you may want to try is to take one of your hands, spread the fingers and with the opposite index finger run through your whole hand. Breathe in when your finger is going up, breath out when the finger is going down. You can even do this while you are waiting for your turn to speak in a conference call without anyone noticing!
With breathing being the practical tip, what is the other technique I’ll teach you today?
Well, my friend, mindset it is!
The bodily functions associated with anxiety are actually exactly the same as the ones associated with excitement, as they are both aroused emotions: increased heart rate, blood circulation to extremities, cortisol and adrenaline hormone levels rising, stomach stirring, sweaty palms. This all happens in a matter of seconds, and it’s a good thing!
If you’re about to drive into another car, it’s good your body reacts so you can swerve from harming yourself, the other driver, and anyone else in the vehicle. If you drop a mug of hot tea, it’s good your legs jump back so you don’t burn your feet.
But when you are going to deliver your message in front of an audience, the risk is not that high. So, my advice is, instead of thinking I am so nervous, reframe it as I’m so excited!
Your body will be doing the same things, physically, but your mind will be in a more positive frame, you will slowly learn how to differentiate the actual risky situations to something you’re actually just a bit excited about.
It can also help to think of all the good things that can come out of that speech/video. Can you inspire someone? Can you gain a new client? Can you actually prove your expertise to your boss and be in a much better position for a pay rise or promotion? Think of all the good that can come from that one video/turn to speak. Let your mind become excited at the possibilities!
So there you have it, a practical and a long term exercises to help you overcome your fear of Public Speaking.
Want to learn more?
If you want to learn more about this subject and go from Camera Shy to Camera Confident, my 6 week group course is starting on the 20th February, and there are still a few spots available. So you can book your spot here: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/taniapais/476250
(If you’re reading this after the 20/02/2021, well then get your name on the waiting list as I plan to run the course later in the year!)
Any questions do let me know in the comments below too.
Can’t wait to see you master all your video interactions!
Always rooting for you,
P.S.: With all this said, I am only writing from a non medical social anxiety disorder knowledge. Please procure medical help if your fear is debilitating or providing serious danger to your life and wellbeing.
Simple steps to Confidence:
60 minutes to discuss any struggles you are currently experiencing with delivering your message on and off camera.