Public Speaking Skill: Walk Before You Run—First Eliminate Public Speaking Fear and Build Confidence, Then Build Skill
by Allan Misch
When I was a kid, I always ran, never walked. One day, I ran (as usual) to our bathroom. I ran down our unlit hallway and made a right turn, expecting to enter the bathroom through the always-open bathroom door. Instead, I ran head first—actually nose first—into the door that my brother closed.
I broke my nose and was knocked unconscious. Did you ever “see stars”?
When I opened my eyes, I saw stars. After that incident, I started to slow down and walk. I never had a problem like that again.
I’ve led many public speaking seminars. The majority of attendees want to learn presentation skills, yet most dread giving presentations. The simple truth is you can’t improve your presentation skills if you’re wracked with public speaking fear, performance anxiety, stage fright, or other performance blocks.
You have to walk before you run. You have to eliminate public speaking fear fear and build confidence before you can effectively build skills. So how do you become a confident speaker? Take the following three steps.
Step 1: Identify Your Limiting Beliefs.
Limiting beliefs are those “Yes, buts” that compete with the positive beliefs you would like to have. For example…
“I am an engaging speaker.”
“Yes, but my audience won’t appreciate me.”
At the end of the competition, the limiting belief unfortunately will win. You create your limiting beliefs based on a “limiting” interpretation of your experiences.
“What experiences in my life led to this limiting belief?”
(Those experiences usually are rooted in childhood, involving a caretaker.)
For example, you remember when you were 4 years old, your parents were entertaining friends, and you joined in the conversation. Your father said, “Children should be seen but not heard.” You felt shut down and left the room. You remember several other occasions when you were told the same thing.
So your young, inexperienced mind interpreted these events this way:
“I shouldn’t speak up, because I’m not appreciated.”
If you were more experienced, maybe you could have interpreted those events differently:
“My parents don’t know any better. That’s what their parents told them.”
Perhaps, you would have created a different, non-limiting belief. But you created a limiting belief which you reinforced through negative self-talk.
Then you turned this process over to your subconscious and it went to work reinforcing your limiting belief. So now, anytime you have to give a presentation (speak up), you feel that your audience won’t appreciate you, and you become anxious.
Now that you’re aware of how you formed your limiting beliefs, begin listing all those specific events that could be the root causes of those limiting beliefs. Next to each event, write the limiting belief. Then you’re ready for step two.
Step 2: Remove The Limiting Beliefs.
Find a process that you can use to remove your limiting beliefs. Traditional therapy may help you but will probably take a long time. Hypnotherapy is an alternative, but requires a trained hypnotherapist to apply it. NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) is another option, but it too requires a trained, or certified, professional to get successful results.
These, and some other non-traditional methodologies, usually cannot be applied by you.
You must see a practitioner, then see them again when another limiting belief rears its ugly head to add to your dread.
You also could use the No Sweat Speaking™ Process, which you can learn to apply on yourself. The No Sweat Speaking™ Process strips away all the emotional aspects of those experiences that shape your limiting beliefs. When that happens, your limiting beliefs lose their grip on you and you’re ready to apply the third step.
Step 3. Replace The Limiting Beliefs With Positive Beliefs.
In this step, you re-create your beliefs. Do this, using positive affirmations. For example…
“Audiences appreciate me because I care about them.”
Affirmations replace your negative, limiting self-talk with positive self-talk. They help to recreate positive, empowering beliefs. These beliefs transform you into a confident, power-house speaker.
If you’ve used affirmations in the past and they didn’t work, it’s because you didn’t remove the competing, limiting beliefs, which win out over positive affirmations.
Once you take these three steps—identifying your limiting beliefs, removing them, and replacing them with positive beliefs—you will neutralize your public speaking fear and present with confidence. When you can speak confidently, you’ll expand your comfort zone and open your mind to learn presentation skills and fine tune them.
The noted poet, artist, and philosopher, Khalil Gibran, said, “A student in a hurry learns slowly.” So walk before you run. First eliminate your public speaking fear and build your confidence. Then, hone your presentation skills.
©Allan Misch and Allan Kaufman, 2004-2013. All rights reserved. The authors give permission to reproduce this article; disseminate it; publish it in print, electronic form and on a website as long as it is not edited and carries the byline and contact information.
Allan and Allan help business professionals reduce or eliminate public speaking fear, performance anxiety, stage fright, and other performance blocks rapidly and enhance presentation skills. They offer 4 valuable, complimentary videos on “10 Critical Strategies to Make Your Presentation Slides More Memorable” and public speaking tips in their complimentary No Sweat Speaking™ newsletter. Get it at http://www.nosweatspeaking.com.
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