Do you, like many others, dread the thought of having to stand up and speak in public?
Jerry Seinfeld famously made fun of people being more afraid of public speaking than death. The good news is that a fear of public speaking is something that can be overcome with a few simple tips and some practice.
Most of us start feeling anxious well before we have to speak. It can affect our preparation, our sleep, and can exacerbate our fear of public speaking. It can be the source of an overwhelming sense of dread.
When anxiety takes hold our breathing changes.
The first step in overcoming the fear then is to understand the role our breath plays in us feeling anxious.
One of the first changes we feel is our breath moving high into our chest and the breaths themselves becoming much shorter and shallower. The good news is, it is easy to calm our anxiety and regain a sense of control over our thoughts by simply changing our breathing.
Fortunately we have one powerful tool at our disposal to do this.
Sighing interrupts our shallow breaths and acts like a reset button.
Any time we feel anxious, in the lead up, on the day, when practicing, we can sigh. When we sigh we feel an instant sense of calm as our breath is reset.
When our breath is reset we literally interrupt the stress reaction that was fueling our feelings of fear.
After quieting our mind by changing our breath it is important we find the right mindset.
It is easy to get trapped in our own cycle of fear by our own self-talk. We sometimes run aplaylist of all the reasons we aren‚t good enough and need to be afraid. This is perfectly natural and understandable because public speaking makes us feel vulnerable.
However we choose the thoughts we focus on.
+ You can choose to focus on the fact you were called on to speak because you have real value or expertise to offer.
+ You can choose to realise that everyone in your audience is willing you to succeed.
Think about it rationally, when you‚re in an audience you want a speaker to do well. None of us gets any satisfaction from seeing a speaker publicly fail.
You are speaking because you are the expert of have a significant story to share. Be proud of that. If negative thoughts overtake your mind, quiet them by calming your breath.
Invest your energy in preparation and practise because they are critical to the confidence youʼll feel.
You can overcome your fear of public speaking by learning to sigh and deciding to enjoy delivering your message to your audience.