This is a great article by Dr. LeslieBeth Wish.
Does your tummy churn at the thought of speaking in public? Do you feel cotton-headed when you get to the podium? And, unbelievably, did you forget to make the most important point? Welcome to the vast majority of people who fear speaking or performing in public. You’re in good company with famous actresses who revealed they get stage fright — such as Barbra Streisand, Cher, Ella Fitzgerald, Adele, and Hayden Panettiere.
You may not eradicate your fear, but you CAN lessen the intensity, frequency and duration of your reactions so you can recover more quickly. Here are the top tested tips that my clients have used to help them do more than “just get through” the ordeal. They triumphed.
Top Tips to Triumph over your Public Speaking Fears
1. Accept that it is normal to experience some fear. A bit of anxiety arouses your brain’s neural connectivity so you can stay sharp and focused. Rather than panic if your heart races, reframe your body’s reactions as signs that you are revving up your attention. Remember — the audience can’t hear your heartbeat or see your toes curl!
2. Recognize your dread of looking stupid. On a sheet of paper, quickly write down your worst-case public speaking scenarios. For example, you might write: “I’m afraid my mind will go blank. I’m scared that I’ll fall. I’m scared that I’ll knock over the podium. I’m afraid people will judge me.” No fear is stupid. Write down whatever comes to mind.
Read your list. At the bottom, write this sentence in bold letters: THESE THINGS HAPPEN TO OTHERS, AND THEY RECOVER AND DO A GREAT JOB BECAUSE PEOPLE CAN BE VERY FORGIVING WHEN IT COMES TO SPEAKING IN PUBLIC.
If your worst fears come true, laugh and say something like: “I saved all my brain power to give you good ideas and forgot about… (fill in the blank). Or joke about yourself. One time a famous person was giving a talk about her clothing line when she realized the price tag was still hanging from her dress. She pointed to it and said: “Always open for business is my motto. Any guesses what this cost?”
3. Uncover your negative assessment of you. On another sheet of paper, write down the sayings that float around your head like a ticker tape of your critical self-view. For instance, you might write: “I’m not that smart, funny, special, attractive or good enough to be up here speaking.”
Read your list. Ask yourself: ”Who made me believe these things?” Most often, it’s your caregivers. Write this sentence in bold letters: WHEN MY PARENTS CRITICIZED ME, THEY WERE REPEATING WORDS THEIR PARENTS SAID TO THEM — SO THEY DON’T APPLY TO ME.
Then put a huge letter X through those negative words and write: “I don’t have to believe these negative assessments. I don’t have to be perfect to be accepted.”
4. Practice. Practice in front of a mirror or friends. Watch yourself on Skype. Practice in the shower. Some of your best ideas come when you are doing something else and are more relaxed. Don’t worry about using the exact same words or phrasing each time you practice. Allow for flexibility.
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