Does standing in front of an audience fill you with fear?
There was a famous study done back in 1973 which indicated people fear public speaking more than they fear death.
Whilst I am not sure if that is truly the case, public speaking is definitely a commonly held fear that is at least near the top of most people’s fear list.
And whether you like it or not, in your career there is a good possibility that you will be asked to do some kind of public speaking.
There are several different things you can do to help but today I want to share you a very simple and effective technique.
But first, to use this technique it helps to understand how nerves begin and their impact on your body.
You see, the feeling of nervousness starts in the mind. When it comes to public speaking we perceive public speaking to be more of a risk than it really is. So you start to feel nervous…. It’s actually your mind trying to keep you safe – and providing a feeling of uneasiness as if to say “I’m sure if you should do that?”
When there is enough worry your mind triggers the flight or fight response this impacts the body causing a cascade of chemicals to be released.
You’ve probably heard of getting an adrenaline rush – that’s a big part of it. The chemicals increase heart rate, breathing, mental alertness and provide a sudden boost of energy.
Fast breathing makes it difficult to speak, the mental alertness makes every pause feel like an eternity and the sudden rush of chemical energy often transforms into all kinds of nervous twitches like fidgeting and even shaking.
Not very helpful when you want to be cool, calm and collected!
Then of course your bodies reaction can make you even more nervous and create a feedback loop to failure.
Yes, breathe…. And I know your thinking but Andrew I am breathing! It not like I stopped…
I know but hear me out.
In the few minutes before stepping out in front of a crowd concentrate on your breathing… slowing it down. Deeper, slower breaths…. If you can, you may even want to close your eyes while doing it.
Slowing the breathing and making it deeper calms the body and reduces the bodies response to nerves, and when the body is calmer the mind becomes calmer too.
And when you focus your mind on breathing, it’s hard to think about being nervous anyway.
So when you feel the nerves coming just close your eyes and slow your breath… and soon you’ll be a speaking success.
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Andrew is a strategist, career performance expert and mindset master. A qualified Chartered Accountant and former CFO, he has a variety of experience in top 100 corporates, professional services and building businesses. His passion is ‘results driven education’ and maximising experiential learning to rapidly develop individuals for real results.