When I first began speaking I had significant fear, but I knew I wanted to teach and speak, so I was determined to overcome it. Because you are reading this blog, you are likely an introvert, like me, and having the attention of a crowd isn’t particularly joyful or comfortable. Here are a few tips I have used to overcome that:
Reframe the Emotion
I began saying, “I’m really excited for this speech.” Telling myself I was excited and that excited felt the same in my body as fear. By reframing this, I am way more comfortable. What if the anxiety or nerves you are feeling is really excitement?
If you are really feeling anxiety, could it be that you need more time to properly prepare? Is the anxiety rooted in the fear of being looked at or watched? Get clear about what is really at the base of the emotion and look for ways to overcome that. Perhaps using a mantra or affirmation could help.
Use a Mantra/Affirmation
Sometimes I use a mantra when I’m afraid to help me overcome the fear. These sound like:
I am an expert and people look to me for guidance. I’m happy to be the voice for this cause. I’m honored to share this information.
I am prepared. I spent time really developing my talk and practicing it. I am ready. I am excited!
I look good. I feel good. I know my stuff. The audience is really looking forward to what I have to share today.
I also remind myself that I’ve done this before and it’s gone really well. I visualize past times I have done well and I think about some of the testimonials and reviews I’ve received to remind myself of the positive impact I’ve already had.
Yes, I am an NLP Practitioner, but before that, I used it to help me overcome some deeply held beliefs that weren’t serving me. Through NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming), I have created some strong resources I use myself to increase my confidence and lower my anxiety around speaking. If you’d like to learn more about this, do an internet search or contact me – I’m happy to chat and see if it’s a good fit.
There are several articles written on this concept and, again, a quick internet search will provide information and research. Basically, stand with your head held high, shoulders back, shoulder blades down, feet apart as wide as your shoulders, and your hands on your hips. This pose is shown to increase the testosterone in your body, which helps you feel stronger and more empowered. If this pose is too difficult to work in, sit straight up in your chair with good posture – that alone will increase your confidence.
Before you speak, in the days leading up to it, visualize: the room, the audience, you on the stage. Picture everything going well, you feeling relaxed, calm and impactful. Imagine your audience engaging in a positive way. Smile.
Studies show visualization helps create more calm in your body because your brain can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined. By using your imagination, you are in essence making it feel like you have already done your speaking engagement it perfectly. You are building a type of muscle memory that will then make it more likely to happen as you have imagined. Pretty cool, huh?
Shrink or Expand the Room
So, this suggestion is something I created when I really started listening to my internal dialogue about what I was really afraid of. I came to the understanding one day when I was going to speak in a HUGE room and it felt overwhelming. I didn’t mind speaking in smaller, more intimate groups, so I had to somehow figure out how to “shrink” the room. In this case, I moved the chairs that were further in the back to the side so everyone had to sit in the front part of the room, thus making it feel more intimate. I also chose to speak from the floor, rather than the stage. These changes made the room feel smaller and more comfortable for me.
You may also feel a little cramped in a space and that can create anxiety. Consider ways to make the room larger, which could involve moving things around, adding more light, or even just doing a visualization or mantra that the space is exactly as it needs to be.
Take Time to Charge
As introverts, we are charged up by being alone or being connected in a small group of deep, authentic relationships. Before you speak, be sure to allow enough down time to be relaxed and refreshed. After your talk you will likely be approached for several conversations and connections. Be prepared for this and find a way to connect to people long after the event, such as with a sign-up form.
Your sign-up form will allow you to follow up with people on a longer time frame and prevent you from being too overwhelmed immediately after speaking. Be sure to have down time throughout the day or event, or even allow the next full day away to not get “fried.”
Are you an introvert who speaks and/or teaches large groups? The great thing about this is that you are building great rapport, just like an extrovert. However, while an extrovert will be charged up by all the attention, you will need to take the time to process and charge back up alone. Build that into your time and keep doing what you are doing to make your positive impact in the world. Looking for more tips or support around speaking or sharing your passion? Let’s chat!