Is your fear of presenting in public holding you back in your career?

Jerry Seinfeld once said that “most people would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy!” For many people speaking or presenting in public is their No. 1 Fear.

Susan was a school teacher and she was perfectly comfortable in front of a room full of students. She was a wonderful, creative teacher, had a great relationship with her students and was known by her peers for her great ideas.

She was often asked to run professional development sessions or give talks to parents, to which she politely declined. The truth was that Susan would have loved to have done these things, except the thought of getting up in front of her peers or parents filled her with terror.

Susan knew deep down that what she had to offer would make a big difference in her school and in the community, she just didn’t know how to get her ideas out there without freezing or making a complete fool of herself.

Why is presenting such a challenge for so many people like Susan, especially in front of peers?

Do you remember having to do a talk at school? Did you enjoy those assignments or did they freak you out? Do you have memories of feeling embarrassed in front of your classmates, or maybe a disapproving look from a teacher? All of these things contribute to negative associations with public speaking in your adult life.

Having rows of faces staring at you is a daunting thought. They have their own body language, feelings and pre conceived ideas, most of which have nothing to do with you or your presentation. Still, there is a natural desire to want to make them all happy. Most of us want to be liked and appreciated so it can be easy to feel out of control in a situation like this.

This makes your heart rate go up, your body releases lots of hormones such as adrenalin, your hands may get all sweaty, and you may have trouble breathing. You may even feel sick. You may fear forgetting the words or be unable to speak at all.

This can build on a pre-existing fear of getting up in front of people, which only makes the next time even more difficult! 

3 Steps to Take to overcome your fears of presenting…

Rather than doing this with an actual situation in the beginning, it helps to just imagine a time when you had to get up in front of people and share your ideas. Start small.

1. Be with your fears and your feelings. By this I mean witness them. Trying to push these feelings aware rarely works and beating yourself for having them in the first place, only makes the situation worse.

Notice where your feelings are in your body and the thoughts you are having. You do not need to get lost in this state, instead observe them, almost as if from a distance.

2. Ask yourself what you need in order to feel safe AND still take one step towards your goal.

It might be to have a supportive friend with you, or it might be to remember a time when you did feel confident, or practise by yourself for a while or even imagine yourself surrounded in white light. Whatever it is for you is perfect.

3. Bring in those feelings of being safe and supported.

Really feel these feelings, Breathe deeply and slowly. Stand up tall and smile. Feel your feet connect to the earth. Your body has a big impact on your feelings.

From this position notice what has changed as you picture the people in front of you. Do they seem more human, friendlier, more supportive?

Practice this in imagined and real situations and see the difference it makes.

Closing thoughts…

The truth is you cannot control what others think of you. All you can do is be yourself and express what you long to say. How they respond is up to them.

It helps to remember that most people would feel exactly the same in your position. By taking this step, you become the inspiration. Most people want to support you and they want to love what you have to say. Focus on the love, it washes away the fear.

You may be speaking to 3, 10 or 100 people. It doesn’t matter. They are all individuals, there just happens to be more of them than normal. Connect with the individuals in front of you, give from your heart and you will impact them more than you can know.

If you would like some support with your speaking then Expression with Heart: 3 Powerful Sessions to Express Your Voice may be just what you need, to learn more, click on this link. Expression with Heart


This entry was posted in public speaking, Self expression and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.