Speaking in public can be a stressful and terrifying experience for many people, and some even have mild anxiety attacks when they have to speak in front of a larger audience. You may be able to relate… your voice starts to tremble, your hands start to shake, your eyes get teared up, and you feel like you are about to break down crying. Many people fear public speaking and this can often hold us back from developing ourselves and doing what we need to do.
Why We Fear Public Speaking
Why so many of us fear speaking in front of large crowds is very complex, as we are complex beings. A small child does not care what other people think about them, and they therefore do whatever they want, with no fear or hesitation. But as we grow up, we become more self aware, and realize that people perceive us in a certain way. This is something that follows us into adulthood, and with everything we do, we know that the world is watching, which can be an enormous pressure. We are therefore unable to truly be ourselves when other people are watching, as we want to impress them and look good. We are no longer that fearless toddler feeling confident and feeling safe, but we have instead become this nervous person, too fixated on looking good to the outside world, and too focused on what other people think.
When it comes to public speaking, we then have this subconscious need for approval, which puts extra pressure on us. We want people to like us, which only causes stress and anxiety. So as we stand there… in front of all these people… having to give our presentation or hold a speech… we get overwhelmed and break down.
Negative Automatic Thoughts
Throughout life, but especially from our early years, we create something called schema. A schema is simply our way of understanding the world and certain situations from our past experiences. So if you have tried speaking in public before, your mind will have created these beliefs about these types of situations. These beliefs then provoke a certain thought reaction known as automatic thoughts… the thoughts that come automatically in certain situations. These thoughts can either be positive or negative, and will determine how we are going to react.
So if you have had negative past experiences of public speaking, feeling stupid and feeling exposed, then your mind will automatically recall these thoughts the next time you are in a similar situation, causing a chain reaction of stress and anxiety inside of your body. This is a subconscious pattern that needs to be changed for you to change the way you are going to react, and the best way to change it, is to get more good experiences to replace the old belief.
Tools for Public Speaking
So how does one deal with fear of public speaking? Well, one tool is positive self talk. You may think that positive affirmations are a load of horse poop, but if we don’t take control of our thoughts, we allow our negative thoughts and imagination to run wild, which then creates this stress response inside of our body. Positive affirmations can help us send a new message to our subconscious mind… convincing us that everything is going to be okay, and that we can do this. Our thoughts are the only thing we have control over, and so this is where we need to interfere if we want to change our old negative beliefs that are holding us back. So here is a guided positive self talk exercise to help you reprogram your mind and boost your confidence and self esteem.