The New Brain is the conscious thinking part of your brain. Most of us have patterns of thinking that contribute to our nervousness.You can reduce your nervousness by exploring your patterns of thinking. This is part of the basis of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
One of the most common patterns of thinking that contribute to the fear of public speaking are demands.
Here's an example of how they operate. A few weeks ago I was running a training course. I knew that the CEO would be one of the participants. I felt myself get a little nervous as we were setting up. When he walked into the room I got hot and my heart started racing. Why would I react in this way? I have a demand around CEOs. It goes something like this:
CEOs are really important and I must have their approval.
My demanding thought made me nervous. What was the result? I messed up the instructions for a simple exercise that we do at the beginning of every course and that I've done perfectly hundreds of times before!
Here are some common demands people have about presenting and public speaking:
I must be interesting and engaging
I mustn't leave anything out
I mustn't waffle
I mustn't show I'm nervous
I've got to be able to answer every question
These demands make you nervous because you can't guarantee that the demand will be met. To reduce their power, rationally analyze the truth and usefulness of these demands. For example, with my CEO demand I can see that it's not essential that a CEO approve of me. I don't demand that everybody approves of me - and it's irrational to demand that a CEO must approve of me. I can also see that it's not useful to have this demand as it made me mess up!
In the post The Seven Thinking Sins of Public Speaking I've analyzed other common demands and explored how to defuse them.
I get that fear of public speaking can be debilitating, and can have you avoid opportunities in your life. I hope this post has been useful to you in thinking through how you can best reduce your nervousness.
Please let me know what you found most useful by writing a comment below.
You may never have written a comment on a blog before, after all its similar to public speaking - you're saying something that many people will read. It may make you nervous& accept that and write the comment anyway. Look forward to hearing from you :-).
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