If you have, you are not alone. In fact, you are very normal as the fear of speaking in public affects 75% of people and even has a name – GLASSOPHOBIA. My last article focused on debunking presentation myths. What I didn’t tell you, was that the fear of speaking in public is THE BIGGEST FEAR that I’ve ever had to overcome. Much bigger even than my fear of needles and that was so severe that I once sprinted three blocks when my doctor took out a needle to remove a splinter from my foot. I was only 10 at the time 😊 but the fear did stay with me well into adulthood.
My fear of speaking in public was so paralysing that I didn’t have to pretend to be sick when there was a speech to be done in high school. I was sick! So much so, that when I went to my 20-year high school reunion, they still remembered my fear and were like, “You do what for a living!?! No way!” No-one could believe that I actually speak in public – every day – by choice.
I thought I’d share some critical Key Steps that really helped me overcome my fear and…
‘be the difference that makes the difference.’
- Prepare! Prepare! Prepare! Apply presentation skills 101 and if you haven’t had any training or coaching on how to deliver powerful presentation, join a programme – it does not have to be ours although I’d love to work with you of course. Ensure that you have a clear framework for your presentation, a powerful opening and close (that you’ve rehearsed multiple times), and a body filled with analogies, stories and case studies that make it relevant for your audience.
- Focus on your purpose. I like to ask myself, “Why me? Why now? Why this audience?” I ask this over and over until I am crystal clear. This keeps me focused and reminds me that I have an important message to deliver and a core objective to achieve. Connect with your passion surrounding it and focus on achieving a positive outcome.
- Visualise success. We often visualise the worst and talk ourselves into being nervous. Silence your inner critic and summons your inner champion. The stories you tell yourself impact every aspect of your life including how well you present. The theatre of your mind is your creation; the script is up to you. Remember that your unconscious mind doesn’t know what you are thinking about it real or imagined. Imagine success!
- Breathe and power pose. When you implement techniques like 4:7:8 breathing and open out your body language in a powerful pose, you give your system a chemical advantage. Your testosterone increases, which is your confidence hormone and your cortisol drops, which is your stress hormone. You also regulate your blood pressure and oxygenate your brain.
- Involve the audience. One of the biggest reasons for stage fright is feeling alone in the spotlight. When you involve the audience, you are no longer alone, and you get valuable feedback. This makes us feel good because dopamine and oxytocin are released. Dopamine is the responsible for pleasure and motivation. Oxytocin makes us feel appreciated, warmly touched, even loved (depending on the situation of course!). Oxytocin is the most important chemical when it comes to building long-term loyalty and trust as it increases empathy and communication, which is key to sustaining relationships.
- Remember that the audience cannot see what you feel. It is only in cartoons that you can see the heart beating right out of their chest. Imagine that you are swimming like a swan along the surface of the lake. The audience has no idea that you are paddling frantically underneath. They will only know if you tell them. All too often I hear presenters apologising for a mistake that I honestly had no idea that they had even made. Not only can the audience not see what you feel but they had no idea what you had planned to say or do. So, never announce when things don’t go to plan. Minimise it, shift to Plan B, stay cool calm and collected and take Key Steps to…
‘be the difference that makes the difference.
NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.
Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.
Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.
Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’