I understand this is a common issue that a lot of people face and no matter what, at some point you’re going to come to a situation where you have to speak publicly, whether it being a uni presentation, giving a lecture or a wedding speech.
I remember that I had the mindset to do things that I’m scared of because I knew that overcoming the adversity would change me for the better. However, I still managed to subdue my fear of public speaking until I eventually realised I was avoiding what I was most scared of.
I was sick of it.
I remember being in the car and my mum telling me of a festival in Rochester, England, in which you could sign up to different events and one of them was public speaking. So, I signed up to do a 5 minute speech in front of an audience, which scared the crap out of me.
That’s how bad I was.
I knew I had to approach my fear fully and not just occasionally expose myself to speaking in public.
Once I knew I was going to end up doing this speech I was scared but I became excited amongst the fear.
It really helped for me to understand the psychology behind our fears and what we can do to trick our body into doing what we want.
We all have a default setting. This is our ordinary state. Some people are more outgoing than others and some people are more quiet. Either way, your default setting can be changed. It just takes time and repetition (about 30 days – according to Charles Duhigg and other scientists extensive research into habits).
This is what I call state control and if you can master this it will help you excel in multiple aspects of your life.
To be able to control your state of mind, you need to understand there is a very real connection between the mind and body physiologically and that they are manipulated by each other.
Your hormones act like the intermediary between your mind and body.
Therefore, to be able to think, act and feel confident you need to use your body.
This can be done by literally shouting. Yes, I used to just shout. Barking is great too. Have an argument with your dog. Do some sort of shouting and you will get a rush of testosterone and other confident boosting hormones.
In weightlifting, a study found that participants that would grunt and make noises during lifting would be able to lift roughly 10% more.
Here is someone going into the specific dynamics of grunting.
Grunting aside, there’s more you can do than just making noises.
To get yourself into that state, you can also jump, do some push ups, or run on the spot. Sounds crazy, but it’s been known for speakers such as Tony Robins to do jumping jacks before going on stage.
When it actually comes to speaking on stage you’re obviously going to feel nervous beforehand.
What I’m about to tell you is absolutely essential to remember when in these situations.
Everyone feels these nerves before doing these sorts of things. It’s your body’s anticipatory response to help you! Increasing your blood flow to your brain and body to put on an astounding performance.
Some people have the point that this is stress. Now, let me have a go at changing your perspective on stress. I have a very strong viewpoint on keeping as much self control as possible and I want you to see that you have control of these things.
Stress has negative connotations to it but as we have gathered, it is a very natural process when approaching adversity.
The origin of the word ‘stress’ actually has definitions of being ‘drawn tight’, ‘narrowness’ and ‘oppression’; which is to help you block out unnecessary thoughts and focus on your purpose.
There’s more though; think of the purpose of stress from a primitive perspective. Stress would be triggered if there were some sort of danger, which in those times could be from being attacked by another tribe or by some mammal that thinks you’ll make a whopping breakfast. Therefore, stress was triggered to focus on surviving, and the fear that kicked in was in order to prevent impending doom (or simply death).
Fortunately, unless you really piss someone off, you don’t tend be in that situation. But we are modern-day people with stone-aged brains. People are subconsciously associating this adversity and stress with death; possibly hence the phrase ‘scared to death’.
So one way of coping with these nerves is asking yourself ‘what’s the worst that can happen?‘. It’s over-used but there is a lot of logic behind it. Think about it literally. Are you going to die?
This may sound funny but it’s actually important to ask yourself this because you need to disconnect these instinctive fears from your nerves for when you go to do your speech. To understand where I’m coming from here is a diagram of the thinking thing in your head.
3 main parts: logical, emotional and lizard brain.
When you react to nerves negatively, lizard brain takes over and he blocks off the logical area. That’s why you can find yourself at a loss for words and why you must disconnect the pesky lizard from your speech.
So when you start feeling those nerves kick in, do not fight it! it’s not going to help.
You embrace it. You’re now in control.
You’re not reactive anymore. You only have time to be proactive.
This is the point of positive change. This is where some people would shy away but that’s not you anymore.
Now fear is no longer an enemy but a gateway to a better you.
Before I get too philosophical; here is your Call To Action!
1) Practise State Control – This isn’t good for just your confidence, but your general happiness. If you’re feeling tired or down, use your voice and your body to release those feel good hormones and start dominating your path.
2) Ask yourself ‘What’s the worst that can happen?‘.
3) Embrace your fear.