If I asked you to consider public speaking this year, how would you feel? You might be interested (then keep reading) or you may feel sick at the thought (then definitely keep reading!).
You see, public speaking anxiety is a common issue for many people. It can range from feeling a little bit nervous to having a paralyzing fear.
But if you are someone who experiences anxiety when speaking in front of a group, there are ways to help manage and reduce the stress.
Know How It Makes You Feel
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that almost everyone has nerves when speaking in public and it is a totally normal feeling.
Acknowledging that you are feeling anxious can help you to take steps to manage it. Being in denial won’t help you make any progress!
Once you’re able to recognise what you’re feeling, you can start working on how to change your mindset on it, and what in particular gives you these feelings.
For example, you may be feeling afraid because you’re worried about having everyone’s eyes on you. And if that’s the case, you won’t be the only one with this fear.
All Eyes On You
Many natural fears stem from our pre-historic roots, and this includes ‘being in the spotlight’.
Back then, humans perceived being watched as an existential threat, as if you were being watched – it was likely by something that wanted to eat you!
Humans also fear judgement, and being kicked out of their small communities. In caveman terms, once alone, survival would be much more difficult!
Because of this, even in a modern society our brains are still wired the same way. So when we attempt public speaking we may sometimes show signs of fear that stem from feeling in danger – sweating, unsteady breathing, freezing , the fight-or-flight response.
How do we react to these symptoms? As we would in pre-historic times, we use our survival instincts. For most people, this could be avoiding eye-contact. If I can’t see you (predator), then you can’t see me, right?
On stage the worst thing you can do is avoid eye contact with your audience, it really won’t help! And I promise there’s a solution to this!
When public speaking, the main thought you might have is that all eyes are on you, and that you’re the main focus for everyone, including yourself – right? That keeps you panicky and in your own head.
So, the solution is simple. Turn your attention onto the audience instead. Or to be more specific – focus on helping your audience. Boost your generosity. Rather than thinking – ‘what should I say next?’, think – ‘what do the audience need to hear next?’
Helping others has been scientifically proven to help YOU out as well, by essentially calming you and decreasing the likelihood of that fight-or-flight response.
Take it from me – one of my favourite things to do is to coach my clients and help them flourish.
But how can generosity be linked to public speaking?
Focusing On Your Audience
Think about your audience before you even begin your speech. Often, the build-up can be more nerve-wracking than actually DOING it, so start asking yourself about the audience.
How many people will be there? What sort of people will they be (for example, co-workers), will you know anyone?
The more personally you can identify the audience members, the more you can figure out how to address them, and what you think they’ll want to hear.
Think about this as you start speaking – remind yourself that the speech isn’t just about you, it’s about sharing your message with your audience, and delivering them something useful (whether it’s a product, inspiration, or just advice!).
And finally – eye-contact!! I cannot stress enough the power eye-contact has – and if you do it right, it can really make a speech feel more personal.
Rather than looking at the group as a whole, you need to look at each person individually, at different points and taking your time. What makes you feel more noticed and acknowledged, than having someone look directly at you? Only this time it won’t feel nerve-wracking, it will feel like a genuine, human interaction.
Practice Makes Perfect
Finally, you should remind yourself that everyone in the audience is rooting for you. No one wants to listen to a bad speech! Practising these skills can help you keep a positive mindset which can help you to stay focused and give your best presentation.
Public speaking anxiety can be daunting, but with the right preparation and attitude, it can become manageable. And you don’t have to practice alone – I can help you!
On the 28th January we will be hosting our next Strictly Come Speaking event; a safe, supportive environment for you and other like-minded women to learn public speaking skills, develop confidence and listen to incredible speakers share their stories!
If this is something you’re interested in, grab your FREE ticket here.
PS – The genetic blueprint really helps with understanding who you are and what you are here to do – fill in this 2-minute questionnaire and I will send you your own ‘genetic blueprint’ which will help you understand yourself so you can begin to find your why! You will find it here.
PPS – If the link doesn’t work for any reason (sometimes technology has a bad day) then email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will sort it out for you!
PPS – If you liked this blog and want to read more blogs surrounding female empowerment, you can find last week’s here: ‘Co-operation and Collaboration‘
“I’m on a global mission to help 10 million disheartened souls, who are at a crossroads, to STOP asking why me? And START saying why not me!”