Your old brain is the part of your brain that is constantly scanning the environment looking for threats. Survival is what matters to the old brain.
Many people suffer from 'Old Brain' nervousness. In prehistoric times, being part of a group was essential to our survival. So one of the threats to our survival was being kicked out of the group. What might get you kicked out? Standing out in some way, saying something offensive or stupid, or not performing up to expectations.
Fast forward to now. You're standing in front of a group ready to open your mouth and your old brain goes (metaphorically):
Oh-oh. This is a threatening situation. If you say something stupid, YOU MIGHT DIE!
It's no longer true that you might die, but your Old Brain doesn't know that. Your Old Brain activates your survival system: fight, flight or freeze. When it comes to public speaking the most common reactions are flight or freeze:
Flight - You avoid public speaking if at all possible. If you do have to speak, speak as fast as possible so that you get through it as quickly as possible.
Freeze - You feel stiff and artificial as you speak, your mind goes blank.
Here's what can you do about this type of nervousness:
1. Accept nervousness
This type of nervousness may happen every time you speak. Accept that nervousness may be your ever-present companion. If you fight your nervousness (eg: say to yourself 'I shouldn't be nervous' - see New Brain nervousness below) you'll make it worse. In this post How to use your fear of public speaking to make you a better speaker I've written about three specific ways to accept your nervousness.
2. Get used to it
You may suffer from nervousness less as you gain more experience presenting. That's because your old brain has gradually realized that this public speaking thing is possibly not that life-threatening. So desensitize yourself - take every opportunity to speak in front of a group.
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