Your thoughts are powerful….
Fear is a natural response when in danger. A two-year-old doesn’t fear walking into the street until someone yanks him or her back, warning them of the danger, creating awareness and reinforcing the sense of danger with their own emotions! Creating a thought that the world contains things we should fear. This will save the life of many children, in many different situations – strangers promising candy, stealing and punishment etc. All using fear avoidance by caring parents and family.
The first time you or a classmate stands up to read a piece from a book and mispronounce a word or a have memory lapse, YOU experience anxiety, become flustered, and snickers erupt throughout the room… the feeling of embarrassment and foolishness ensues and the fear of public speaking starts. The ‘danger’ of public embarrassment is now set and the fear is learned and imbedded.
It is important to understand that getting up to speak will bring even the toughest individual some anxiety or fear.
One of the secrets of becoming a great speaker is learning to perform, using the energy of nervousness and anxiety – in fact, making your fears or anxiety work for you.
As the tension and extra adrenalin is pumping through you, use it as catalysts to a great performance – it will give you the winning edge needed to excellence.
Many of the professional speakers I coach still experience nervousness and welcome it, use it – after all, the chemicals released by the body which give us these sensations and prepare us are excellent for public speaking. The rest of this article is written to help you understand what is happening to you and your body and then give you several strategies to help you through those terrifying first few minutes and on to success.
Having A Melt Down?
This is what happens in your brain when you get really excited, anxious, mad, fearful — or really – really – really anything!!!!!!
You may feel that you have lost control of your body. You may experience: rapid pulse, sweaty palms, dry mouth, and shortness of breath, quivering voice, and queasiness. You may be having a mild Amygdula hijack – this is part of the ancient brain kicking in – the same reflex that will help you when in real ‘danger’ – it is perfectly natural. In what Dr. Dan Goleman labeled “The Hijacking of the Amygdula,” the thalamus has a reaction. Like any skilled air traffic controller, the thalamus can quickly react to potential threat – perceived or real. In that case, it bypasses the cortex — the thinking brain — and the signal goes straight to the amygdula. The amygdula can only react based on previously stored patterns.
Sometimes this kind of reaction can save our lives – however while it may feel like our life is in danger when public speaking, it is not. To minimize the effect from the hijacking, it is important to practice patterns, which lead to de-escalation.
From that hijacked state, that condition where your brain is flooded with electro-chemicals, you still have options. You do not need to stay hijacked — you still can choose actions. After all, the chemicals do not persist — they will dissipate. Take several deep breaths – releasing them slowly, and in just a few seconds this will reduce the effects of the chemicals that have been flooding your body.
Fear – of social ‘death’ or real danger – triggers the ancient brain to keep you safe. You can unintentionally trigger it with anxiety and association with the idea that when public speaking you could ’embarrass yourself’ and fail – your thoughts are powerful. What you focus upon you create; fear or power, it’s your choice.
Remember, all it takes is 6 deep breaths to dissipate the effect – breathe, relax, breathe – focus upon the audience, as they want to hear what you have to say.