Speaking Anxiety - Are You Making This Mistake?

by Janet Hilts

You have many opportunities to "perform" inside your business. Basically, that's any time you're talking - on the phone, in your mastermind group, working with clients, and in formal presentations or workshops. For a lot of people, these are times when stage fright kicks in.

Fear of speaking affects most of us in some form. In fact, surveys find that we're more afraid of speaking than we are of dying! Because stage fright is so common, Jerry Seinfeld joked that "at a funeral, the average person would rather be the one in the casket than the one giving the eulogy."

Consequently, some people avoid speaking in their business as much as they can, preferring to hide behind the computer. This is understandable, but unfortunate. Other people forge ahead by bucking up and powering through their fear. Hats off to you! At least you're out there doing it.

OK - many speaking coaches and psychologists endorse this as the best approach to getting over that fear - this powering through. I disagree. I believe they back this because they don't know there's another way to eliminate the anxiety.

Here's why bulldozing through your fear is not effective as a business strategy: Your anxiety is still high. And that creates these problems:
  • You're on edge and can easily be thrown off course by a microphone that doesn't work, or an introduction that's not quite what you want.
  • Your listener feels your tension and can misinterpret what it means.
  • Your creativity is cramped, making it hard to think on your feet or answer questions well.
  • Your voice is affected - maybe shaky, maybe too soft, or monotone -- so you don't sound strong.
  • It's hard to convey compassion or certainty, so there's a distance created between you and your audience.
These stage fright factors present problems in coaching, teaching or selling - all of which are built on the relationship you're building through your speaking.

So powering through your stage fright is a poor choice. OK - It's true -- some people just keep doing that and over time they DO reduce their anxiety. But there are people who have been speaking for 20 years and the fear is still there!

What's the answer? Concentrate on eliminating the fear first. It doesn't have to be a long drawn-out process. That's old school thinking.

There are several rapid-change techniques and processes available to help get rid of that anxiety permanently. EFT or "tapping" is what I use with clients. And if you choose another path, that's great - just be clear that you DON'T have to "feel the fear and do it anyway." Find a way to get rid of that stage fright and start enjoying all your opportunities!

From the desk of Janet Hilts MPH, EFT-ADV

Copyright © 2010 Janet Hilts, Speak Up & Shine | Clearing Pathways, Inc.

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