Wednesday 31 May, 2023
For many people, one of the scariest things in life is to stand up in front of a group of people and give a speech. It doesn’t matter whether the group is friends - e.g. at a wedding – or whether it is a group of strangers, the feelings are the same. We can prepare well and practise but it does not take away that fear. Of course, the more one speaks in public the more confident one becomes but for many the occasion is a ‘one off’. So how can we deal with these fears and positively enjoy the occasion?
‘Fear’ or F.E.A.R. is simply ‘Future Expectations Appearing Real’. We create our own fearful feelings through our imagination – the ‘What ifs’
‘What if I forget what I am going to say?’
‘What if I stumble over the words?’
‘What if I bore everyone?’
Why does this negative internal chatter affect us so much and how can we change it?
We have a conscious and subconscious part of our brain. The conscious is that part which takes in information and makes decisions. The subconscious controls the reactions to the messages sent to it by the conscious, it never questions or makes decisions, it just believes what it is told. Consequently all those negative messages our conscious is sending to the subconscious are being acted upon. The result is our stomach churns, our mouth goes dry and we feel really nervous. To change the way we feel we need to change those negative voices into positive ones.
The phrases need to be in the first person ‘I’. When the subconscious hears ‘I’ it becomes alert and ready for a command. The instruction should be in the present tense (it’s happening now) and it needs to be specific and positive.
For example –
‘I am speaking clearly and confidently.’
‘I am not stumbling over my words.’
Practise this and replace every negative statement with a positive one.
In everyday life avoid speaking negatively to your friends or colleagues, it has the same effect on your subconscious. Instead of saying ‘I am really worried/nervous about this.’ You could say, ‘I am working at controlling my nerves.’
Finally, remember to believe in yourself and overcome those last minute nerves. I recall many years ago, standing in the wings of a stage waiting to make my entrance in my first amateur dramatic play. I tried to remember my first line (or any other line for that matter) and nothing! I was beginning to go into panic when I stopped and told myself – ‘I’ve learnt my lines, I have successfully rehearsed them, just trust yourself.’ And sure enough, as I stepped on to the stage the words began to flow.
Remember, when you come to make your speech do your preparation, practise your speech, think positively and trust yourself . Do all of these things and enjoy the experience.