"There is no true orator who is not a hero. " Emerson
It's taken me a while to get around to Issue 1, with a 19 month daughter to chase after and various other business projects ... but the time has come!
I'll be adding articles to the website no-fear-public-speaking.com more regularly again, so stay tuned.
Also make sure you get a copy of my new e-book "How To Survive Public Speaking". Treat yourself for Christmas. Remember all the books you don't read, definitely won't help you!
Why You're Still Afraid Of Public Speaking
This will probably be the most important article you'll ever read.
I know that's a bold statement, and I'm confident to say it because it explains how to end all public speaking anxiety forever. Of course, once you nail that fear, you're well on your way to dealing with lots more, particularly the so called social fears.
You'll also learn why nothing you've tried so far has worked. Maybe some of the tricks you've used over the years have helped a bit, and may even have calmed your nerves for a short time. But nothing has eliminated the fear completely has it?
That's because all of these techniques miss the point. They can never work, because they're aiming at the wrong target.
Let me explain ...
Imagine you're lying in bed at night when you hear a noise downstairs. You pretend it's nothing, but then it happens again. Now you're scared.
You grab your flashlight and tentatively descend the stairs, heart leaping out of your chest. You take a deep breath, fumble for the lounge light switch and flood the room with light, to see ...
Your teenage son gulping down a midnight snack.
Now think about what just happened. You went from terror to no fear at all in an instant didn't you?
Because you realized the truth. There's nothing to be afraid of (apart from the mess he's made).
What if public speaking fear was like that? What if you thought there was something to be afraid of, but then one day you learnt there wasn't? That all this time you'd been making a mistake?
Wouldn't that be cool? You'd have a real edge over the millions who didn't understand what you now understand. Your whole approach to speaking up in all sorts of situations might change. Maybe your career might even take off.
Ok. So what's the mistake everyone makes with public speaking fears?
It's very, very simple.
Just about everyone equates stress with anxiety.
This is a huge mistake because then everyone tries to reduce the stress and the physical symptoms of stress, instead of eliminating the real problem ... the anxiety.
Public speaking is a stressful activity by anyone's definition. You are about to make yourself vulnerable by performing in front of a group of other humans. No matter what you tell yourself consciously, we seem to have certain physiological responses to this type of situation.
In his excellent book "Overachievement", John Eliot, Ph.D. lists the most common ones as:
- Dry mouth.
- Stomach cramps.
- Shaking hands, feet or knees.
- Heart beats faster.
- Eyes dilate.
- Mind races.
Have you ever thought to ask why your body does these things?
The answer is not because you are 'nervous, anxious, afraid etc' or any of the other labels you've been scaring yourself with all these years.
The answer is, your body is getting ready to perform.
Let's look again at each symptom:
- Dry mouth. Your body's got more important uses for the water than making spit.
- Butterflies. Your digestive system is shutting down so you have excess stomach acid. You ain't gonna be eating any time soon.
- Stomach cramps. Your stomach lining is shrinking, your body has stopped producing bile and it will try to get rid of any excess food. (Ever felt like throwing up?)
- Sweating. Your body won't allow you to boil your precious internal organs while you're performing.
- Shaking hands, feet or knees. Faster motor signals are being sent from your cortex to the extremities (the bits that may need to move faster).
- Heart beats faster. More blood means more oxygen to your muscles and your brain. Very handy!
- Eyes dilate. Your vision just got more acute.
- Mind races. You can now process more information, and faster.
Imagine if you had to do all that consciously. Thank goodness all the important stuff is done automatically by the body.
But the really exciting news is that all those symptoms you used to hate because you thought they were a sign that you were afraid of public speaking ... they were nothing to do with fear!
They were preparing you for a peak performance!
Hey ... maybe you could love those sensations instead of hating them?
Actually I suggest that until you love them, you're stuck with everyone else who thinks they're afraid of public speaking. You'll be stuck in trying to 'overcome' or 'conquer' your 'fears'. Of course the battle's never won because anything you resist will persist.
Instead there's a far wiser, easier way that actually works.
Understand the physical sensations you experience before speaking, as a series of arousal mechanisms perfected over millions of years, and love them for the way they are preparing you to perform.
Wise Words From An Old Dead Guy
"We are much more affected by the words which we hear, for though what you read in books may be more pointed, yet there is something in the voice, the look, the carriage, and even the gesture of the speaker, that makes a deeper impression upon the mind."
Pliny The Younger, (61 – 112 AD)
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Have fun speaking with absolutely no fear.