5 Tips on Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

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Why are so many people terrified of the thought of public speaking? You could be the most confident person, but if someone asked you to speak in front of a crowd of people you would immediately start to sweat, shake and feel very sick. It is a fact that Americans fear public speaking more than death. The British fear it less - they fear death more! Some actors go through stage fright at some point in their career.

The American actress Daryl Hannah went to Paul McKenna to overcome her stage fright - it was her first time on stage. British actor Steven Fry actually didn't turn up for his stage performance - he fled the country instead - because he could not face the theatre audience. These are just some examples of professional people who themselves suffer from the phobia of appearing in front of large crowds. Though these two actors were confident in front of a camera but when it came to appearing live on stage with a vast crowd looking at them their confidence withered and panic set in.

One of the reasons so many people fear public speaking is because when at school they were asked to read in front of the class and when the teacher corrected mistakes it would obviously trigger the other children to mock the reader. (Teachers tend to point out the mistakes children make instead of reinforcing children on how well they are doing.) This fear stays with the child until adulthood and it eventually becomes a phobia. The thing is all you need to know on how to overcome your fear of public speaking is three things:

1. Manage your state
2. Know your content
3. Speak with passion

What I mean by manage your state is that say this famous actor suffered from stage fright and this was his strategy on how he felt scared before going on stage:

1. Imagining that some people in the audience were critics and were saying horrible things about him, i.e. "God he's crap. Stiff as a board. He should go back to working in that factory."

2. Feeling the body stiffen because of the imaginary "remarks" and then making a few dialogue errors because now he believes that everyone hates him.

3.. Then finely in the actor's negative internal dialogue he imagines now the critics are saying something like, i.e. "He is past his sell by date." The more he believes his negative internal talk the more he makes mistakes.

He of course was not managing his state. What his internal dialogue should have been saying is:

1. Imagining that when he walked on stage that the critics thought, i.e. "What a great actor. He gets better and better."

2. With the positive self talk he gives himself he will automatically become more relaxed and confident with his performance.

3. As his performance progresses he is confident that he has done a good job and the critics are loving his performance....

It is also important to know your content. If before you go to do public speaking and you don't know what your are on about can seriously harm your presentation and yourself....A good example of the importance of knowing your content comes from self help guru Paul McKenna who had a deep learning experience. He had been practising Neuro Linguistic Programming for about 10 years and before he went to teach one of his seminars he had mentally learnt a script and planned on what he was going to say. Just before he went on stage Richard Bandler, the architect of Neuro Linguistic Programming, asked if he could do a different module from the one he was given. Of course this worried Paul because he had not mentally rehearsed the script for the other module. From the look on Paul's face Richard Bandler gathered he was worried so he said: "You have all the knowledge on this subject you need. You just have to be in the right state and the words and ideas will flow. After all, if you were sitting talking with friends about it you wouldn't be worried, would you?" Paul finely started to feel relaxed and he went on stage for the first time with no rehearsed script. He said it was one of the best classes he had ever taken! So this is why it's important to know your content before you take any form of class.

Whether you're a professional public speaker or actor it is important to speak with a passion about your subject. Even if you are not a professional public speaker if you are passionate about something it will come out in your voice and the audience will automatically warm to you.

5 Steps to overcome fear of public speaking:
  • Think about any upcoming public performance/s you may have.
  • How do you want to feel during your performance, i.e. enthusiastic, passionate, confident, etc.
  • Visualize a circle on the floor. Now fill the circle with any feelings you desire. Think of a time when in the past you had your desired feelings, i.e. confident, passionate, etc. An example of the circle: "I fill this circle with confidence and I stand in a confident manner. I am confident with how I look, stand and act. I am also passionate, enthusiastic and motivated to be the best at all I accomplish...."
  • Now it is time to step into the circle and allow the feelings you desire to spread all over your entire being. Imagine yourself doing all the things you want to do and as soon as the feelings start to fade step out of the circle. Recharge the circle with all the emotions you desire and then step back into the circle.
  • This exercise should be repeated at least 5 times until you automatically feel the way you wish to feel and do the things you want to do with ultimate confidence!

So the above 5 tips will help you overcome the fear of public speaking. So don't procrastinate go and become that POSITIVE GIANT you know is inside you!
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