If you are a slave to public speaking anxiety, re-consider 3 beliefs

shackles1It is uncomfortable in the spotlight.

This first belief is one very few people would question, especially when it comes to public speaking.

Pay attention to the adrenaline that soars through your body when you step up to speak and if you don’t like the feeling, you suddenly feel unprepared or inadequate. Maybe you question the audience’s willingness to listen to you, or the accuracy or relevance of your message or your own ability to follow through with credibility.

Simply feeling the adrenaline can naturally send your thoughts into high alert. Even if you are prepared with your message. Even when the audience wants to hear what you have to say. And even when you are exactly the right person for the moment.

There is good reason why public speaking is the #1 societal fear. And it’s because we equate the feeling of the adrenaline rush to being attacked or held captive while everyone is watching.

My public speaking clients generally are on edge when they begin our coaching and development work. Getting in front of others to speak makes them sweat. They tell me this.

But it is also uncomfortable in a sauna. Just because we begin to sweat doesn’t mean we need to run. Instead, we settle in to the surroundings and mentally allow ourselves to relax into the sauna heat, to control our breathing and focus on the benefits.

When we consider how the anxiety of public speaking forces people into becoming a slave to its power, we also see it takes a similar shift to release ourselves from the anxiety shackles. To start with, we must understand the adrenaline rush.

Being in the spotlight requires adrenaline to rush through our body. Without it we don’t have the energy reserve to mentally focus or to physically deliver and engage our listeners.

If we can dispel the myth that one must feel uncomfortable in a sauna, we can do the same about how we feel in the spotlight. Consider shifting the belief to “it is energizing in the spotlight”.

Most of us are in awe of the results of self-discipline.

When we watch feats of tremendous strength, dexterity, stamina or perseverance, we are in awe. High wire acts, walking across coals, swallowing fire or twisting one’s body into uncommon shapes demand total concentration that comes from tremendous discipline.

While few of us can accomplish tasks in this extreme, none of us can without doing what it takes. Self-discipline is the habit that helps us do what it takes.

As Mary Ethel Gumisiriza says in her Personal Growth and Self-Discipline Slide Share, “Self-Discipline is the ability to force yourself to do something you know you should do, whether you feel like it or not.”

Just like getting out of bed is the first step of every day, whether we want to or not, our routine of self-discipline helps us condition our mind, our body and our attitude for results we want. Although we fear standing up in front of groups, the routine of practicing it helps us create a series of improvements.

It may be enough that we personally see our success, yet when others see it, we are motivated to accomplish even more. The belief of self-discipline gives us the chance to prove what we are capable of, thereby cracking the shackles felt earlier about public speaking anxiety.

We build public speaking skills because of what it helps us with.

Effective public speaking is a means to an end. Do you believe this? If you want to be listened to, you will break out of your anxiety shackles to hone this skill.


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