Banish your fear in public speaking

What if I forget what I am saying?

What if they don’t think I’m credible?

What if they ask me something and I don’t know the answer.

So many questions can emanate from two words- what if.

But they all have one thing in common- Fear

Life is full of the unexpected and if we asked ourselves ‘what if’ every time we faced a challenge it would be hard to imagine us doing or achieving anything. And yet- we are willing to drive a car, fly on a plane, get married, have children, and grasp opportunity. Each of those examples has it’s own potential pitfall or ‘what if’ question.  However we do those things because at some point we have accepted that while something may go wrong, or we may fail, we see the ultimate benefit or outcome.

If we bring that back to public speaking – what is your desired outcome? What will have to happen for you to know you’ve done a good job- is it just getting through it without making a mistake? Or perhaps knowing that the audience could hear you throughout? That’s understandable, but is this the limit of your potential?  And more importantly why set yourself such a low bar?

The answer is two fold, but let’s start with the pictures you’re creating

What if I forget what I’m saying? This leads to a picture in your mind of you looking vulnerable in front of your audience. This escalates to hearing awkward silence, which escalates again to feeling really embarrassed because you’ve completely frozen.  Before you know it the picture has become so big it’s overwhelming. Your body doesn’t know that what your mind has created isn’t real, and you start to feel very nervous- anxious even. 

Now,  because you don’t want to feel like this, you suppress the picture and try harder with your content.

‘I’m a professional. Just concentrate on getting the content right, and it will be fine.’

Except, it won’t be fine. Because your subconscious never lies, and it has this nasty habit of screaming at you when you really don’t need it to. For instance when you now have 10, 100, or 1000 people looking at you and your neck has gone red, your palms are sweating, and you’re on the verge of forgetting your next bit. . .

It’s screaming- I TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN.

While you wrestle with your subconscious, your delivery becomes robotic or monotone, and all the audience can see is you trying to avoid the presupposed picture you have created. Most importantly, your audience isn’t listening- because while you’re trying to not make a mistake you’re coming across as tense and perhaps even boring. 

Which brings us to our next ‘what if’.

What if people don’t like me or think I’m credible?  Well, if we put aside the fact that your picture of failure is projecting exactly what you don’t want, there is also another truth; that you’re assuming what other people are thinking and, even worse, taking responsibility for it. Whenever any of us is under pressure it’s very easy to turn our lack of self belief into judgement by others.

The thought ‘ I’m not sure how this will go’ quickly becomes ‘I don’t think people will like me’.

Let me be clear; you are not boring. You are highly qualified in your field and you have been asked to speak for a reason, because you bring knowledge and expertise. Remember that.

Let me be clear; you are not a mind reader. No one in the audience actually cares about you. No audience has ever turned up wanting the speaker to fail. Ever.  All they want is to listen to you. It’s vital that when you’re asked to speak you acknowledge this.

Speaking in public isn’t about getting it right, it’s not even about your content. It’s about you, and your ability to banish your fear and trust who you are; so your audience listen to you and not the content. To do that, you must understand what you’re choosing to focus on, and the affect this has on the pictures you create and blocks you put in the way of your own success. 

You can find problems in ‘what if’, or it can also help you achieve your desired outcome, because banishing your fear is where your greatest growth lies.

What if you had a system in place to help you banish your fear, so your audience listen to you and not the content?

A B.E.L.I.E.F System.

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