As I stood, my fear of public speaking started to exert itself
my knees shook and I grabbed the lecturn to steady myself. But worse was yet to come ...
In rapid succession ...
My heart pounded in my chest, my hands became sweaty, then shook and then became cold.
My mouth became dry and as I opened my trembling lips to utter my first word, my voice squeaked.
Then the words simply poured out in rapid succession ... I was determined to finish before my mind went blank.
My face was blushing and I felt ill and nauseaus. Boy, did I want to be elsewhere but there ...
This is a fictitious speaker, with all the symptoms that I have observed in a fearful speaker with a fear of public speaking.
Thankfully, I have not seen all these symptoms in one person, although I have observed three in one speaker.
NEW SYMPTOMS APPEAR ...
As such feelings fail to be resolved, we start to find new symptoms added.
In fact there are two common responses to the fear of public speaking: FLIGHT or FIGHT.
Here are these two groups of people: 1. Those who AVOID public speaking at all costs (flight) 2. Those that complete some speaking and have developed mechanisms to OPPOSE the fear (fight).
Avoiding or fleeing a fear can have a minor impact or affect life decisions. Consider a fear of public speaking controlling a choice of college subject or courses, or even a choice of a career.
Presentations are avoided, meetings are missed. Even promotions where public speaking could occur are not applied for or are declined.
What is occurring here is the increasing build-up of the fear through avoidance. The avoidance increases the perceived fear of public speaking.
Requires extra energy ... as strategies are developed to fight against and oppose the fear.
Here are two strategies used:
1. Hide their fear, by ...
- Avoid any contact with the audience, eg greeting at the door
- Reading their speech
- Do not look up from their notes to look at the audience
- Look at the back wall
- Use many Powerpoint or photograpic slides
2. Aim to end the speech as soon as possible, by ...
- Avoiding any pauses and interruptions
- Speaking fast
- Rushing their speech
This activity of opposing or fighting the fear is another form of avoidance, of not accepting it or working with it to overcome it.
Instead, much energy is summoned to oppose the fear, to invent strategies to hide it and to end the fear.
Whether you flight or fight, the fear is simply there the next time.
Is it possible to learn to resolve this fear and to speak in public with confidence?
The answer is YES.
YES it is possible to LEARN to speak confidently in public with reduced fear and anxiety.
This is the third response. This is the most CREATIVE and POSITIVE RESPONSE to the fear of public speaking after avoidance (flight) and opposition (fight).
The response to LEARN to overcome the FEAR of PUBLIC SPEAKING will bring life-long rewards.