Fear, nervousness, and anxiety……They are crippling emotions, and can stop you from doing the things you desire and saying the things you believe.
I can recall in my youth numerous times that I had an opportunity to speak, and the chance to use my voice. There would be times when a teacher asked the class a question, I had the answer but was plagued by the fear of being centre of attention. There were also moments during football games, that I badly wanted to speak to the entire team and inspire them to greatness, to motivate them to give it their all, but silence was all I contributed because the nervousness of speaking was to great.
I let negative emotions hold me back from saying what I wanted, and it shackled me from being the type of man I wanted to be.
Have you ever let fear hold you back?
After high school my father asked me to give a speech at his retirement. This was the push I needed, and I made an internal declaration that I would see it through!
Now I have learnt how to speak my mind, and have found that great voice which lies within me and within all of us. I would like to give you a few tips on conquering this fear of public speaking, and actualizing the power of your voice!
1) Practice, Practice, Practice!
I don’t want to sound like a broken record but practice makes perfect! If you are in front of an audience ensure that your speech, or topic, is ingrained within your mind so that it becomes second nature. If you have not rehearsed you will end up looking down at your notes and it will immediately take you out of the present moment. You then become aware of the current state of things, i.e. the crowd of people that are watching you as you try and find your place on the page. To maintain what I call a speakers flow, the less notes the better!
2) Re-frame your emotions….
This was a very powerful lesson for me when I first started speaking; when called up to talk I could feel my hands shaking, my heart pounding, and doubts would creep into my mind. These were negative emotions and the biggest one was nervousness. Once I felt my heart start to pound, in my mind I would say “I’m getting nervous again”. Calling it nervousness would actually trigger me to feel even more stress, fear, and anxiety. This is because we associate nervousness with other negative emotions, and a negative experience. What I was told by an accomplished speaker was to instead call this same feeling….EXCITEMENT!
Why? It’s simply because excitement and nervousness have the similar physical responses – heart pounding, hands shaking, and a electric charge that grips your body. But what does our mind associate excitement with…..Something positive! So by calling this excitement you begin to think more positively about the experience and it actually fuels you to get up, speak your mind, and entertain the audience with your energy!
Do you ever wonder why athletes constantly visualizing playing their sport? Doing what is called mental reps?
This is because it is possible to visualize and create with our imagination experiences so vivid that they are almost as powerful as actually being in the environment and preforming the task. Now if your task is to give a wedding speech then really visualize yourself being in the room, see the people you know, imagine the smells of the food, and see yourself standing confidently and powerfully at the front of the room and giving a speech that is truly magnificent!