What is fear?
Fear is an emotion that is pre-programmed into all animals and people as an instinctual response to potential danger causing certain physical reactions as: rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, tightening of muscles, dilation of the pupils and increased sweating.
Yet a small amount of fear before an important speech serves a purpose – it encourages you to focus on your topic and avoid making a fool of yourself. This is one of the types of fear that can be useful to sharpen our minds.It took 16 years to write Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, while working full-time. Not once did the reality enter my mind, I would someday have to stand in front of an audience and tell my story !!!
I think I'd rather jump out of an airplane. And I'm scared of heights. Though I'd probably change my mind once I was standing on the threshold, the wind rushing past me, while I gazed upon trails of ant-sized cars below.
Research indicates that at some point I will be expected to TALK about my book . . . in person. Yeh Gads! Even the thought of this is terrifying! I decided to take a public speaking class in preparation . . .
"According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two? Does that sound right? " -Jerry Seinfeld
Three weeks ago, I attended my first Public Speaking class at a nearby church. I figured this was a safe place to start. It was a pleasant group of approximately 25 people whose desire was to gain confidence. We wore name tags and were handed an olive-green booklet entitled Fearless Speaking - Public Speaking - Beginner Class. The evening consisted of a dry-run of what would be expected from each of us. I listened attentively. It seemed simple enough, and definitely doable.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the next two classes due to prior commitments . . .
"The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public." - George Jessel
On Thursday evening, I attended my 2nd public speaking class . . . it was everyone else's 4th class. A big difference I came to learn. My facilitator took me to the sign-in table for my nametag and a copy of the AGENDA for the evening. It was then I saw MY NAME. . . ! I was scheduled to be a "puzzlee." Is this even a word? I must confess I never took time, in my crazy schedule, to read the olive-green booklet, or I would have known what a puzzelee was.
"What am I suppose to do?" I asked, without a clue.
"Don't worry, it will be easy," she said, turning to speak to someone else.
As it turned out . . . there was the puzzler, who asked a question at random. The puzzlee was to answer this question. I was called to the podium, asked a question, then handed the microphone like in a Miss America Pagent, except I was missing the gorgeous gown. You talk about pressure! I had never held a microphone before, a chrome cage on a handle. Heavy and daunting. A few inappropriate uhhs and ahhs slipped out, before I started talking about the first thing that came into my head. All I wanted to do was hurry up and go back to my seat.
"We can't hear you," my facilitator called from six rows back. "Please hold the microphone closer to your mouth."
My brain scrambled to remember where I was. I kept going. My heart pounded in my ears. I was close to tears at one point. Finally, I was done. I escaped back to my seat. People clapped. To be honest, I remembered very little of what I said.
"Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Public speaking fear - Edward Hope, editor and publisher of The Art of Great Conversation . . .
The fear of public speaking is common to most people around the world. It is very often one of the top three fears of people in surveys. And the reasons for this are simple:
- Fear of the unknown - new situations can be frightening
- Fear of rejection - the feeling your efforts may be criticised
- Fear of failure or making a mistake
Listed are 7 techniques to overcome the anxiety:
- Emerson's quote, "Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain."
- Have an attitude that says, "I'm giving them my best. I hope that's good enough . . . "
- Mentally play down the importance of the speech. Who is going to remember it in a hundred years?
- Learn to grin at your audience and go right on speaking when you make a mistake. People will forget the mistake and remember the grin.
- Talk about something you really know. Something you know from your heart, not through memorization.
- Practice your speech. Either on your own or with someone - know your subject intimately, and practice as often as you can.
- Visualize delivering your speech successfully, as often as possible with intensity and passion.
Does anyone have a sure cure for this . . . other than imagining everyone naked?
Lessons learned . . . my two cents
Man's mind - once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. - Oliver Wendell Holmes