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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.

Q & A – What to say if you don’t know the answer

speaker_Q&A

Many speakers fear and avoid a Q & A.

Why … because they fear a disaster spiraling out of control.

“What if someone asks a question and I don’t know the answer?”

Experienced speakers know, however, that rather than being a disaster, a Q&A is a wonderful opportunity and they prepare to leverage that opportunity.

“But how can you prepare for every question? No-one can know the answer to everything!”

Let’s look, instead, at preparing for the opportunity buried within this seemingly impossible disaster.

First step … If you don’t know the answer, admit it. That is not a disaster, in itself, or in the making.

Admitting to not knowing the answer is a chance to build authenticity.

Audiences are reasonable. They understand that in the avalanche of information available, no one person can know it all.

There is nothing authentic or credible about someone trying to side-step a question with blustering. Much better to tell the truth.

But before you lose your credibility as an expert, have a plan for response to these questions.

1. If it’s possible, know the experts in the room. Throw the question to one of them, and you are providing a resource just as much as if you had given an answer. You have provided an answer. You have created or reinforced a connection with the other expert. And you have positioned yourself within a community of experts.

2. You can also refer the question back to the audience in general. You are building engagement here with your interaction. If it is possible to allow discussion, you can build a sense of community within the audience. If it’s appropriate you can ask for opinions, stories and examples as well as facts.

3. Finally, saying “No comment” just doesn’t work. You appear either to be completely ignorant and helpless on the subject, or worse still, trying to hide something. If there is no way to answer in the moment, commit to getting the answer to the questioner as soon as possible – to either giving them good sources/resources at the end of your presentation or to communicating an answer in coming days. If you cannot answer because it is not appropriate or you are not at liberty to answer, explain why. Again, audiences are generally reasonable and understanding.
This is also providing an opportunity to reinforce your respect for your audience and its members. Answering with integrity and an honest effort to help, you are showing respect for the person asking the question and for the question itself, no matter how awful the question or the motives of the questioner.

That respect is all part of the process of building and maintaining your credibility and your authenticity. And Q&A has given you the opportunity to contribute more to that process. Rather than being a disaster waiting to happen, Q&A becomes a valuable opportunity.

7 Days of Christmas – Gift this to someone who needs to make a wedding speech in the near future

The Pivotal Wedding Speech PackAs part of my 7 Days of Christmas promotion,this pack, The Pivotal Wedding Speech Pack, is available for the special price of just $7.00! (Normal price $27.95)

Will you be giving a wedding speech next year? Or maybe you know someone who is, and they would like some help.

Make this a gift to them… or to yourself ….

The Pivotal Wedding Speech Pack Consists of 7 sets of tips:

1.  Speech structure, ideas and hints.
2. How to keep nerves under control – physical and mental strategies plus ways to check you can be confident in your speech.
3. How to avoid being overwhelmed by emotion.
4. Using Stories in Your Wedding Speeches
5. 10 Ways to Make Your Speech a Success
Plus 2 Bonuses just for the Father of the Bride
– Traditional Duties of the Father of the Bride
– Father of the Bride Speech

This offer is only available until 5 p.m. Thursday 19th December.

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7 Days of Christmas – more than 50% off “From Anxious to Awesome”

From Anxious to AwesomeAs part of my 7 Days of Christmas promotion, this powerful eBook, From Anxious to Awesome, is available for the special price of just $17.00 (normally $37)!

Let me take you through the process that will free you to present with confidence

– free you to make an impact – free you to give a successful speech

– free you to become a confident speaker.

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.

This offer is only available until 5 p.m. Thursday 19th December. Get it here >>> http://bit.ly/1bwjHHG

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