Have you experienced nervousness before an upcoming speaking engagement or public presentation? Trouble sleeping the night before? Or maybe you feel your heart pounding, trouble breathing, and your legs shaking just before starting your presentation, as if you were facing a life-threatening situation? If you’ve ever experienced these symptoms, you are not alone. According to reports, Stage Fright is believed to be the number one fear in the US. Fear of Death comes second. So, how can fear of speaking in front of an audience be worse than dying? Well, it’s all about perception. The most common reasons why people suffer from Stage Fright are fear of being judged and fear of failure.
Stage Fright can vary from one person to another, some people are able to speak in front of an audience despite the fear and anxiety, but won’t perform their best or as well as they could. Other people, however, dread so much the experience that they just avoid public speaking. In most cases, people developed this fear after a bad childhood experience, and then it intensified over time. Just like any habit or behavior, the more you experience a certain fear, the more it gets reinforced. Stage Fright can hold people back from getting promotions, growing a business, networking, participating in speaking engagements at weddings and social events, etc.
If you want to become a really good speaker like Barak Obama, Bill Clinton or Oprah, you will need lots of practice and techniques to model great speakers. But if you want to overcome the fear of public speaking easily and effectively and become a better speaker, techniques like Auto-suggestion, Hypnosis and Neurolinguistic Programming (think Tony Robbins) have proven effective to help eliminate fears and phobias and increase confidence and speaking skills. During Hypnosis it is easier to communicate with the subconscious mind (where habits, behaviors, beliefs, feelings and emotions are stored) to get to the root of the problem, eliminate false beliefs, negative thoughts, feelings and emotions, and then develop the desired behavior. When you are in state of deep relaxation, the subconscious mind is more accessible and it is easier to develop better more positive beliefs and habits. The idea is that you learn how to relax physically and mentally and to imagine yourself speaking in front of an audience feeling calm, relaxed and confident. You can also try joining groups like Toastmasters so you can get more practice until you feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience.
Here are a few things you can start doing:
1. - Do Visualization several days before the event. Imagine yourself in a place where you feel relaxed, peaceful, safe and secure, anchor these good feelings with deep breaths and imagine in front of you a circle of confidence and success. Give the circle any color you like and make it glow. Next, step into your circle of confidence and success and think about your skills and talents while at the same time you take deep breaths. Then imagine yourself speaking in front of the audience with ease and confidence. Visualize Success! Repeat several times.
2. - Do Breathing and Stretching before any speaking engagement. Take deep breaths, inhale slowly for 6 seconds, then hold your breath for 4 seconds, and exhale for 6 seconds. Stretch the muscles of your arms, your back, shoulders and neck. Yawning also helps relieve tension in the jaw.
3. - Drink water before and during your speech if possible. Just make sure to go to the washroom before the event. The last thing you want is to have a dry mouth when you are talking.
4. - Focus on the friendly faces. Trust me; people want you to succeed, so there will always be friendly faces in the audience.
5.- However, if you have been avoiding public speaking for some time, or if the problem has been getting worse over time, maybe it is time to get some professional help. I really believe that anyone can learn to feel more comfortable and relaxed, whether in front of an audience or at job interviews. Just so something about your problem and do not allow this fear to cripple you or prevent you from achieving your goals and dreams!