Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
It is finished! I am pleased to announce that my new book “Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking” is now done. The book features lessons to help readers confront and conquer their fear of public speaking. This is such a common fear that I’ve chosen to address by writing a combination book and journal. The journal aspect of the book will allow readers to document their progress as they navigate the lessons. I thought you might enjoy seeing what a typical lesson is like. Enjoy!
Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
“The toughest battles most of us will fight happen in between our ears.”
- Gary Rodriguez
Common Signs and Symptoms of Speaker Fear
As you work through this course, you are going to confront and understand your fear of public speaking. Even as you progress in the course, you still may deal with some nervousness and slight symptoms. However, when you understand and manage the fear, the body’s reaction to this fear will gradually diminish.
Most people with a fear of public speaking will not be suffering from a severe anxiety disorder, but merely from a variety of normal anxieties and symptoms common among those who speak in public.
First, nervousness, anxiety, and panic are all feelings that are considered symptoms of this fear. In addition, there are many cases where the body may display acute physical symptoms as well. These physical signs occur when the fight-or-flight response kicks into gear.
Sweating and dry mouth are two common symptoms. The dry mouth may be so bad that you do not even think you could utter a word. The neck and upper back muscles often tense up, which can cause your voice to sound strained or quivering.
The fight-or-flight response often elevates the heart rate, so you may feel like your heart is about to pound out of your chest. Your blood pressure may become elevated, which can lead to flushing of the skin. An increase in both blood pressure and heart rate can also cause hearing difficulties. It may even feel like you are short of breath.
Sometimes the signs and symptoms of the fear of public speaking can be even more severe. You may feel dizzy, sick to your stomach, and some people even report vomiting. Your hands and knees may feel shaky, too.
You may also experience psycho-somatic symptoms when fear overtakes you. While embarrassment often occurs, you might also focus on only negative thoughts of everything going badly for you. The urge to flee may be overwhelming, and you may even doubt yourself or feel uncertain about what will happen. Now here’s the good news. All of these signs and symptoms are completely normal. They occur because your body is reacting in fear and perceiving public speaking as a threat.
As you work through this course, you are going to confront and understand your fear of public speaking. Even as you progress in the course, you still may deal with some nervousness and slight symptoms. However, when you understand and manage the fear, the body’s reaction to it will diminish.
Think about these symptoms. Have you ever dealt with them? Imagine getting up to speak without those problems. Keep going through the course and you’ll discover how to release those fears. You will learn to minimize the symptoms and obstacles that are keeping you from being a proficient public speaker.
As we conclude this lesson, please use the Journal Activity area below to write down the symptoms and obstacles you encounter when speaking in front of others. Try to detail your attitude, feelings, body sensations, and general thinking related to public speaking. Remember that getting a handle on your fear is the first step to overcoming it.
1. When I speak in front of one colleague, I feel . . .
2. When I speak in front of a small group, I feel . . .
3. When I speak in front of a large group, I feel . . .
4. When I know I have to give a speech, I experience . . .
Once you have completed the above Journal Activity, put it aside for an hour or two. Then come back and reread what you have written. Now pretend you do not know the person who wrote these comments. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this person’s chances of being a proficient and successful speaker based on what is written above?
Okay, do you have a number? Well, that is your starting point. You are going to grow from there. Remember or write down that number because you will need it at the end of the course to compare it to your growth and development during the course.