Out-Psych the Fear
An upgrade of your health and energy, exercise, and proper preparation will help keep you calm when you get on stage. But you may want to go beyond these basics to be sure the fear is under control.
You are considered an expert on the subject you are going to be speaking about or you would not have been invited to take up the audience's time listening to you. That should mean that you are passionate about the topic and that you have devoted a good part of your life to mastering the details. Here is a perhaps rare opportunity where everyone will be waiting on your every word. You should feel excited in a good way!
Many top athletes prepare for competitions mentally by visualizing themselves winning. Right before he hits the ball, Tiger Woods imagines the flight path it will take, watching a movie in his mind. Also known as guided imagery, this process of using the mind's eye to marshal all the powers of the brain and body can be a powerful aid in achieving goals. Classic handbooks on the process, like Shakti Gawain's
The subconscious (the part of your mind that is outside your conscious awareness) is especially able to align thinking and actions in the right direction when the brain is giving off alpha waves. That is when you are very relaxed, such as just before you fall asleep or wake up. Take time to relax each muscle progressively before you start imagining the outcome of your speech.
The process of visualization has been successfully used by therapists to treat skin diseases, obesity, phobias, sexual dysfunction, alcoholism, depression, asthma, gastrointestinal troubles, anxiety, insomnia, speech problems, and other medical and behavioral dysfunctions. It is a natural way to combat stage fright.
Positive self-talk has become popular in recent years as a way of stopping the negative chatter of the dysfunctional mind. In
They advise using the present tense in formulating them: “I am calm as I speak in public,” instead of “I will be calm.” They explain that this turns it into “an instrument for creating a parallel, presenttense reality in your consciousness.” They believe that you should use only three primary affirmations in any one period, about all the mind can handle effectively at one time. But also add one that says, “My entire being is balanced, vital, and healthy.” This will check the tendency of the subconscious to trip you up by misinterpreting words in the other three.
There are several ways to integrate these affirmations into your life. You can relax and repeat the phrases in your mind, or they can be chanted. Affirmations can also be combined with meditation and visualization. You can also write down the affirmations each day and carry the messages with you to look at periodically (when you feel fear about your speech, for example).