Training and coaching involves putting aside your nerves so you overcome your fear of public speaking
Most people have experienced anxiety when asked to give a public speech at some point in their professional lives. My first big hurdle came when I was asked to run an onboarding session for 150+ new cast members at Disney. It was terrifying.
Ever felt like that? You’re not alone. In fact, experts estimate that as much as 75% of the population experiences some degree of anxiety when it comes to public speaking. This is according to research published in The Journal of Social Sciences Research (2018).
It’s called Glossophobia and it’s the scientific term for the fear of public speaking. As a trainer or coach, you need to be comfortable on your feet. In some respects, your voice is your brand as well as your message so you need to shine!
So who suffers from the fear of public speaking?
Glossophobia is very common, but it’s most often associated with people who already suffer from social anxiety. It may be surprising to know that introverts can excel as public speakers because they often don’t project themselves onto the audience and therefore may have a better connection with them. Many great trainers and speakers are actually introverts. I’m one too!
And what happens if you’ve a fear of public speaking?
The fear of public speaking can range from panic to anxiety to uncontrollable shaking hands and changes to your voice. The fight-flight-freeze response is your body’s stress response to perceived threats, and it instantly causes physiological and hormonal changes.
These changes include sharpened hearing, the release of adrenaline and noradrenalin, and an increased heart rate to increase oxygen flow. Evaluative situations make you feel like this.
Amy Cuddy talks about this in her famous ‘Fake it till you make it’ Ted Talk!
When you freeze, as many of us do when we are about to ‘perform’, it isn’t a conscious decision but an automatic reaction that can’t be controlled at that moment. We associate certain situations with fear or negative experiences. It may start when you first experience that situation and can develop over time. But with understanding your brain better, you can start to make changes quickly!
How can I feel better about public speaking?
Preparation, being well-organized, looking at things from a different perspective, and having support can all help, as can some sessions with a speaking coach in more severe cases. Having some experience also helps because the fear of the unknown is a powerful force. So what can you do to get over the fear?
Here are 3 hacks to help you
1 Relax your breathing and visualize
Use breathing techniques when practicing, preparing, and performing so that over time it becomes a learned response. If you are feeling very anxious, breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven, and breathe out for eight seconds to lower your heart rate, release carbon dioxide that may be building up, and ease the tension in your muscles, reducing your physiological response to your fear. It also helps to visualize your training session going well.
2 Change your belief system
Approaching your next keynote or workshop with a ‘can do’ fixed mindset. Try to reframe your training program or client meeting so it’s not so overwhelming. Your brain is fantastically adaptable, and the chances are you that you are more able than you think. Talk to yourself in the same way you would speak to a friend. Dismiss constant negative internal chatter and remind yourself you are doing your best. Positive affirmations work well for me.
3 Present to a smaller audience to start
Start off presenting to a smaller audience of people you feel comfortable around. Virtual Speech is a training company that helps people overcome fear of public speaking by using 3D headsets. Practice with a groups of three, then 5 and so on. Gradually expand the number of people until you are speaking to the kind of numbers at a keynote event.
Listen to Sophie Thompson CEO of VirtualSpeech.com share how her training company helps people overcome the fear of public speaking
Conclusion and challenge
In conclusion, overcoming the fear of public speaking is a really a journey that requires a combination of self-awareness, preparation, and practice.
As you continue to practice and put yourself in challenging situations, you will gradually become more comfortable with public speaking and be able to deliver engaging and effective presentations.
By understanding the root causes of this fear and implementing strategies such as visualization and deep breathing, you can begin to build confidence in your ability to speak in front of prospective training clients.
Ultimately, you have to be the person who represents your training and coaching business. If you want to stand out, you have to stand up and be heard!
So what are your next steps?