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Does public speaking give you a nervous rash? Here’s how to cure it

I hate public speaking - that rash

About that rash …

Yes that rash … the one you were telling me about at the networking meeting.

“Oh public speaking,” you said, “I hate public speaking. I always get that rash that spreads up my neck. So embarrassing! I have to wear a scarf!”

Is it because of the rash that you hate public speaking or is it that you hate public speaking and consequently get a rash?

Or is it that you don’t mind public speaking, or you wouldn’t mind public speaking? In fact you would probably enjoy it, but somewhere someone said something that gave you the idea that you would be judged every time you spoke or that the stakes are high every time you speak – be careful!

And that created stress. Stress releases cortisol and adrenaline into your system and both are known to affect the skin. Or it could be that you are having an allergic reaction caused by stress.

Either way you need to relieve yourself of the stress. That way you bring back the enjoyment you expect from pubic speaking and the freedom to speak without worrying about that rash.
And in this case, though not for everyone, it was caused by fear of being judged and fear of failure.
And what could you use, what thought pattern could you introduce, what story could you tell yourself so that you lost those fears?

The first step is to lose the focus on you. Yes I know there might be a rash, but there won’t be if you stop focussing on you, your being judged, your risks in the high stakes outcome.
The second step is to focus on having a conversation with our audience. Look at it as a stylised conversation, perhaps, but don’t call it “public speaking”. This is different, if only so that it’s no longer associated in your mind and adrenal glands with the ”thing” (“public speaking’) that causes the anxiety, the stress, the rash.

And in this conversation, just as in any conversation, engagement and connection occur naturally. Be a natural, not someone being judged on a performance.

And while you are focussing on that audience and the conversation, think about what you are doing for them. What are you giving them that they need or want or like? Start with the mindset of service, of win-win for you and them. Research them and uncover what they need/want/like and appreciate and then give that. Make them aware, and reassure yourself, that you are there to serve.

It is not about you. It is about your audience and your service to them.

So while the high stakes may involve making a sale or persuading or impressing, that sale, that persuasion, that impression will all be made so much easier and less stressful if you aim to serve and make it obvious that that is your aim. And the outcomes will be so much more abundant as well.

Win-win for all concerned.

Know that your new techniques will take away the feeling of being judged and the stress of high stakes outcomes. Know that all you need to do is know your audience, hold a stylised conversation with them and offer them service. And the anxiety drops. The stress drops. The adrenalin and the cortisol drop. The rash goes and public speaking becomes something to anticipate with pleasure.

You CAN do this!

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Now … about that adrenalin addiction – that adrenalin habit, the one you told me about at the dinner last night – ah that’s a whole other article…!

Come along on 17th March and learn how to Step up to confident, Effective speaking … learn a mindset guaranteed to overcome many of the challenges you face in public speaking (including the fear), the seven basic principles of speaking success, and set your speaking goals so that this is your year to build success. Visit http://bit.ly/1DWXwpj

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[Quick Public Speaking Tip] Could it just be disaster management?

Maybe all you need is disaster management

Maybe all you need is Disaster Management

You KNOW that speaking is a great way to share your brilliance with a wider audience, gaining you leads and clients for business, supporters for your ideas, more souls who need your inspiration (and just connecting with people).

But is something stopping you?

Public speaking nerves are normal and healthy, but not if they are stopping you sharing that brilliance.

There are all sorts of sources of those nerves and their paralysing effect and all sorts of ways to release them.

But sometimes it is as simple as taking a moment or two to define just what it is you are afraid of – what is allowing the paralysis.

It may be as simple as fear of disaster – of something going horribly wrong.

And step two may be just as simple. Set disaster management plans in place. Don’t court disaster, but just set stuff up so that you can visualise success, knowing that you have contingency plans in place.

So take that moment or two today and it may, indeed, be just that simple.

[Image source: http://vulkanschule.de/images/vulkanausbruch.jpg]

Into the Danger Zone – Getting your Tom Cruise on

tom_cruise_dangerCloak yourself in the attitude and face the danger zone of public speaking.

Last night, at a presentation I gave on speaking your story, someone muttered “Yeah … public speaking – the greatest fear of all!” We all laughed and empathised, and then shared our stories – speaking in public but not “public speaking.”

This morning on the way to the supermarket, I heard “Highway to the Danger Zone” remembering the thrill of the music, and the movie and the Tom Cruise persona …

… and then thought of that comment last night – facing public speaking for some people is like walking into a danger zone – a combat zone – a place where they feel they may have to fight to survive, and maybe it would be better to turn and run – right now!!

So let’s get our Tom Cruise on.

Before this goes any further, let me say I don’t know anything about Tom Cruise as a person beyond what the gossip columns tell me. I have never (well almost never) seen him in a movie except as a sexy, strong, cocky individual, with an appealing soft side. And I am well aware that there are all sorts of movie techniques that enhance that – not least pumping music like Kenny Loggins’. And here’s an audio to remind you just what that feels like.

What was it about Tom Cruise? Ah yes “sexy, strong, cocky, with an appealing soft side”!!

He was good and he knew it. Yes he loved speed, but he was also a good pilot. Want to get your Tom Cruise on? Be good, get good. Read this blog. Read other blogs. Get coaching. Watch other speakers and TED talks. Practise. Capture the moments when you know you are good, when you are in flow speaking, when you feel like a rock star. Rinse and repeat and find out ways to increase those moments. But most importantly, remember what they felt like and take that feeling with you, whenever you speak. That is getting your Tom Cruise on.

If I were to define “cocky” I would think it would involve the word “confidence”, and something to do with the body language of confidence. Looking like you are confident, moving like you are confident, talking like you are confident, works in two ways. Firstly it makes you feel confident. Those who work with laughter know that it is therapeutic. Laughing when you feel least like laughing lifts a mood and stimulates all sorts of therapeutic physiological changes. Acting “cocky” when you are feeling least confident changes your attitude and stimulates all sorts of therapeutic changes in your behaviour and especially in your presentation style. The second way that acting as if we are confident works is that people see confidence. In The Tom Cruise movie persona, this is sexy, attractive. We want to feel that way too. In our speaking situations, it inspires trust in the audience. They see a person who is confident in their knowledge, confident that they can communicate with this audience, and confident enough to be authentic throughout the experience. Do I suggest you be cocky? Not if it’s not your style. But do “Get your Tom Cruise on” if it means behaving with confidence.

Another part of the “cocky” definition would have to be the aspect of fun. Here is a person enjoying what they are doing. The Top Gun fliers enjoyed the need for speed. When the feeling of fear, of danger, appears as it does for all speakers, get your Tom Cruise on. The adrenalin is running because you are taking on a challenge. It’s good. It’s fun. You will achieve. You will also learn. Challenge is where we find flow. Challenge is also where the greatest learning happens. Turn the fear of fear into excitement at doing something that is going to feel so good (and if it doesn’t there will be fabulous lessons to learn. Unlike the pilots you are not facing complete obliteration!)

Before I wrote this article, I went to Youtube and watched a version of “Highway to the Danger Zone” that features clips of the movie. I didn’t watch it all the way through. You can watch it here if you want.

What I did notice, though, was the number of times Tom Cruise is featured with other people. Though it feels like we speak alone when we are on a stage or in front of an audience, we rarely are. “Cocky” needs an audience to enjoy it, to share the fun of it. There will be moments when you can share the “rock star” in-flow speaking moments with your audience. Watch a comedian as he delivers a punch line. Watch Brene Brown as she makes a humourous point. There is a connection with the audience that asks “See what I did there?” – not always, but enough to enable you to take your audience into the experience with you. You are not alone. Nor are you alone as a speaker who is learning to be a Tom Cruise. There are competitors, if you are the competitive type. There are close friends and allies. All are having their successes and failures. You can learn from them. You can support them. They can support you. Some of the failures will be absolutely devastating. But those failures, as I wrote before, are often the greatest learning opportunities, and also the greatest opportunities to bond tightly with colleagues and friends.

And that is one of the places where the “appealing soft side” of the Tom Cruise persona comes in.

Do I want you, or me, for that matter to be “sexy, strong, cocky, with an appealing soft side”? Not if that’s not you already. It’s not me. We are each unique, with our own unique story to tell and to share. But if Getting Your Tom Cruise On can change your attitude as you go into the Danger Zone of public speaking, makes you a superstar speaker, or even just the very best you that you can be right there and then, I will be applauding wildly as the lights dim and you leave the stage.

Image source: http://bit.ly/1npG58c

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[Quick public speaking tip] How to disown your inherited fear of public speaking

fear_disown

Sometimes it’s necessary to dig down to the roots of our fear of public speaking. And there can be a lot of those, but if you dig them out, one by one, confidence grows.

Does fear of public speaking run in your family?

I’m not sure if there is a genetic cause for this but I do know that if you have seen your parents or a family member speaking or performing confidently in public, then you will most likely see it as something you can do too. But if you see fear and aversion to public speaking then you will probably adopt that as part of your culture as well.

So it may be time to kick it out of your culture again, disown it. You could have a “coming out” party where you announce to your family that, in fact, you are a confident pubic speaker, and even though that is so different to everything they believe in, you just have to go ahead with it. Can’t do that in real life? Then do it in your head. It’s just as effective.

Otherwise … rebel! Imagine yourself dressed in something absolutely outlandish – entirely different from your family’s normal, raising your fist in the air and speaking with confidence – the “rock star” speaker you always dreamed you could be.

You will know what works for you when it comes to being independent, just do whatever it takes to dig out that attitude that you have inherited, and grow a new one. Be the successful speaker you know you can be.

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Understand why you feel the way you do about public speaking and how to work with that to turn public speaking into a positive experience.

Create a speech and a mindset that sets you up for success.

Prepare so that there is nothing to fear- not judgment, not accidents and disasters, not the unexpected.

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You can be a success despite the nerves

I don’t particularly like X_Factor videos and the emotional hype that goes with them, but watch this one, and you have to be inspired, especially if you suffer from performance nerves. If this man can do what he did, so successfully, so can you!!

Inspiring – Breaking through the glass wall that is the fear of public speaking

This is a valedictory speech by a student who feared public speaking.

“I’d literally have sweaty palms and a pit in my stomach at the thought of being called on to answer a question in class. The worst part was that I thought I’d always feel that way but thank goodness I finally figured out how to get rid of it and I’ve never felt better about speaking publicly.”

Watch him as he waits through his introduction. It is still evident. Watch, though, as he makes his speech and know that this is one inspirational human being.

He still has a way to go with his speaking, but with an attitude like that, he should go far.

I would love your comments on this speaker and his presentation in the comments below. Especially I would like to hear what advice you would give him on his speaking. I think he would appreciate it.
 
       

Knock down the wall between you and your audience in public speaking

The first piece of public speaking that I can remember doing was in about the second year of school. Every year of school, we learned several pieces of poetry by rote, wrote them in our best handwriting in our poetry books and recited them together each morning. I loved that poetry – loved the writing, the sound of the words and the way they fitted together in a new form of speaking. But in the second year of school, it was decided that each person in the class would recite the poem to the whole group. We were instructed to stand out the front, in the middle, with our hands clasped together with the finger tips of each hand nestled against the fingers of the other – “cupped” I think, is the word for it.

I don’t remember being nervous, but remember standing there. I don’t remember what the teacher may have said was good about my presentation, but in perverse and fairly normal human style, I have never forgotten being told that I had swayed while I spoke.

And that was the beginning of years of fear of public speaking. Obviously perfection was expected here and obviously, too, my body could not be trusted to be perfect without my strict supervision. By Year seven, the public speaking exercises had graduated to coming to the door of the classroom, knocking and asking “Are you Nelly Reddy?” That was too much! I would discover a sudden need to go to the bathroom –and stay there. It got to the stage where the teacher asked my mother if I was having some sort of health issue!

My love of language and an ability to use it reasonably well meant I built a successful career in public speaking at high school, but always at the expense of suffering horribly from nerves. There was still the expectation of a performance, and the degree of perfection against a set of criteria was always forefront in every experience.

I have worked hard over the intervening years to overcome the fear, because despite it all, I still love public speaking. And one of the best feelings these days is the feeling of being able to stand confidently on a stage and have a conversation with the audience. Another best feeling is knowing that that is the common trend in public speaking today as well. I watch “Show and Tell” in primary school and watch as the teachers make each child feel comfortable, supported, encouraged and never judged. I read about public speaking and see the growing number of people discussing this need to be perfect and what a burden it is, and how unnecessary.

The concept I love most is the idea of the performance/perfectionism as placing a wall between yourself as a speaker and your audience. Perhaps it should be refereed to as a screen, in the way that a screen holds a movie or video separate from its audience.

And of course the antidote is to break down the wall, take yourself out of the screen and see yourself as having a conversation with your audience. You can be so much more authentic as you be yourself in conversation rather than a performing persona. You can be so much more engaging as you interact, in conversation, with your audience. And as a speaking consultant I can now encourage my clients to be themselves – their best selves, mind you, but still their authentic selves.

© Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication. please do. but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com

5 Tips for Overcoming Public Speaking Nerves

Your mouth is dry, heart palpitating, and knees knocking. You go into panic, facing a dreaded public speaking assignment.

It doesn’t have to be so.

These five tips will give you some strategies to overcome those symptoms and have the butterflies flying in formation.

1. Deep breathing will pull in oxygen. Adrenalin, secreted to help you deal with the fear brought on by little doubts, causes breaths to become shallow, or causes you to hold your breath. Deep breathing will help your brain work to capacity, and forcing the slower pace will quell the panic.

2. Bluff. Stand tall, with shoulders back and chest out. Smile. Even though you don’t feel happy or confident, do it anyway. You will look confident and your body will fool your brain into thinking it is confident. This really works!!
Bluff – body and smile

3. Keep you mouth and throat hydrated. Plan to keep a drink on hand while you are speaking., though this sounds impossible. Visualising how you will use it if you need it, and calling up the audacity to do such a thing will carry across to your attitude as you take your place to speak, placing your glass just where you need it to be.

4. Adrenalin sends the blood rushing to the fight/flight centres of your brain at the base of the skull. Place your hand on your forehead and press gently on the bony points. This will bring the blood to the parts of the brain that need it to present your speech best.

5. Know you are prepared. Obviously this depends on actually being prepared, so take every opportunity in the days leading up to the speech to prepare your material. Be familiar with the structure of the presentation, and the ideas to use. Memorise the most important parts, and the parts you are frightened of forgetting. I would memorise the opening of the speech and in the moments before presenting it, would reassure myself that I knew that part, and that would lead on to the rest. It worked!!

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©Bronwyn Ritchie
If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. Get her 30 speaking tips FREE and boost your public speaking mastery over 30 weeks. Go to http://www.30speakingtips.com

For my eBook on Overcoming public speaking nerves, visit http://bit.ly/NEKghl

Don’t let your public speaking nerves embarrass you

It’s embarrassing for the nervous speaker and it’s embarrassing for the audience – those awkward, horrible moments when something goes wrong, something embarrassing happens. They are an experience neither the audience nor the speaker wants to have to endure.

 Here are four situations where you can smooth out those embarrassing moments … and a powerful strategy to use in the future.

1. The mental blank That terrible moment when someone loses complete track of what they are saying – there is a blank, their face drops, and then becomes more and more frantic. This is painful not only for the speaker but for the audience. Develop a strategy now so that if, despite your best preparations, a blank happens, you have something to say. You could remark, “Oops I’ve lost it” and maybe you can add some appropriate humour (“Must have left the speech in front of the mirror!”) and then add something like “Now where was I?” Look at your notes if necessary – “We were talking about …” If it’s really bad, ask the audience. Whatever strategy you use along these lines, you keep the audience, and yourself, moving on, returning to target and none of you is embarrassed. So if you fear the blank moment, be prepared with a strategy that will allow you to deal smoothly with the situation.

2. The audience is bored It’s a moment that nervous speakers dread – to realise that most of your audience is bored. They’re glassy eyed, maybe even falling asleep, chatting or texting on their mobile hones. Horrors! Worse still and more embarrassing is the presenter who becomes frantic, attempting to regain attention. Avoid the whole situation if you can by ensuring you have variety wired into your presentation, and have something up your sleeve that you can move into if necessary. Introduce a new visual. Involve the audience. Change your stance, body language or walking pattern. Stop. Stand still. Whatever you use, it will become a smooth, professional piece of your presentation instead of a situation that embarrasses you and your audience.

3. Dry mouth Do you have a persistent dry mouth? Then take a glass of water with you. Before the speech, organise a place to put it and then choose a time where you can drink without interrupting the flow of your speech. Incorporate this into the planning of your presentation and your visualisation of your successful presentation. If it does interrupt, then find a way to explain it, incorporate it, or joke about it.

4. Those other embarrassing physical symptoms The same applies to anything else you expect might embarrass you or detract from your speech. If you cannot overcome the physical symptoms in the lead up to the speech, then these are the ones you need to develop strategies for. And use this same set of tactics for any other symptoms like blushing or shakes – if they detract from your speech – find a way to explain it, incorporate it or joke about it.

Then you will have defused any embarrassment that you feel or your audience feels. In all of these situations where you might make mistakes or have a mishap, there is one underlying powerful principle that works to avoid embarrassment: “It doesn’t matter what happens. What matters is how you deal with what happens.” It really does not matter!. The embarrassment for everyone lies not in the event itself, but in how you respond to it. So instead of being embarrassed, respond, instead, with professionalism and confidence.

Be as prepared as you can for whatever may arise, and be prepared to explain, incorporate or joke if something does happen. Then you will have been able to deal with it, confidently and professionally – without embarrassment. The added bonus? You are reducing your nervousness and increasing your confidence in the process.

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©Bronwyn Ritchie
If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. Get her 30 speaking tips FREE and boost your public speaking mastery over 30 weeks. Go to http://www.30speakingtips.com