Find your voice

Glossophobia or fear of public speaking is right up there as one of the top three fears people in the UK have along with fear of snakes and fear of heights.

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Healing Clouds have some top tips for overcoming this fear.

Surely public speaking can’t be so bad right? What causes this anxiety?

The main reasons are:

* Feeling self-conscious

* Concern that others are judging you and

* The fear of appearing nervous

There might also be the memory of a past occasion when you weren’t so well prepared for a speech and it didn’t go too well. The good news is that public speaking is a learned behaviour so you can plan for success!

Here are some practical ways to overcome that fear.
1)   Prepare

Giving your speech in front of your audience shouldn’t be the first time you deliver it. Practice your speech many times beforehand so you are confident you won’t get lost in the delivery and can connect with your audience. Perhaps video yourself when you’re practising and look at ways to make improvements.

Time your presentation and ALWAYS have back up material in case time is left over.

Don’t memorize your speech word for word. Just remember the key points and use prompts for sub topics and examples.

2)   Breathe

Unless you’ve been trained as an actor or singer, the chances are that you’re unaware of the best method of breathing for speech. Public speaking requires a larger reservoir of air, for instance, than breathing for life.

Breathing from the diaphragm is the key. It’s also an important way to calm a galloping heart during fear of public speaking and for keeping you from audibly gasping for air if you run out of breath during nervousness.

Exhalation needs to be more controlled so you can sustain vocalized sound to the ends of phrases, where the most important words usually are.

Deep breathing keeps your voice centered which strengthens your credibility and confidence.

Exercises such as yoga are good for establishing better breathing techniques.

3)  Visualisation

Find a quiet, private place to do your mental rehearsal. Breathe deeply.

Visit the location of your performance beforehand if you can or ask the host to send some photos if not. Olympic athletes often go to the race venue beforehand to practice. They do this so they know what to expect and to help them visualize their performance.

The key to effective visualisation is specificity.

Visualise your performance from beginning to end. Don’t miss a step. For example start by seeing yourself waiting to be introduced. Imagine the audience, the face of your host, how many seats will be empty or full. Rehearse the way you walk, how tall you stand, the relaxed smile on your face, your confident body language and what you are going to say. Visualise a positive reaction from the audience. Don’t stop until you’ve mentally rehearsed walking off the stage. Visualise only positive results.

Perhaps go through the visualisation exercise while waiting for your turn to speak.

4)  Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT or Tapping)

EFT has been used for phobias, addictions, PTSD and much more. It is a powerful, effective technique that combines Ancient Chinese Acupressure with modern psychology.

It works by me “tuning in” to specific issues – so for example fear of public speaking – while stimulating certain meridian points on the body by tapping on them with the fingertips. The limiting beliefs and emotions around that issue are reduced in intensity by balancing disturbances in the meridian system. The basic Tapping process is easy to learn and can be done anywhere.

5)  Stay hydrated

Remember feeling like your mouth is full of cotton wool before a public speaking engagement? A dry mouth is a very real sign of anxiety. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before you speak and keep a water bottle with you at all times.

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