How I got over my fear of public speaking

Where my public speaking haters at???

I KNOW I’m not alone when it comes to this topic. You’re in good company, kids!  A few years back I had SUCH bad anxiety when it came to public speaking that I actually had panic attacks and avoided it at all costs.  The strange thing is that as a child, public speaking wasn’t that big of a deal for me.  I mean I wasn’t a pro or anything.  But I got normal nerves, and pushed through and did it anyways for the sake of getting a good grade or what have you.  Fast forward to my early twenties and I found myself absolutely tripping out any time I had to speak in front of ANY size group.  We’re talking full blown I-can’t-breath-someone-help-me type panic.

We’re talking full blown I-can’t-breath-someone-help-me type panic.

It sucked.  I kinda resigned myself to the fact that the anxiety had won and I was just a different person now.  One who rather be buried alive then speak in front of a handful of people.  Let’s fast forward again…

In two days I’m speaking in front of thousands and thousands of people in Las Vegas.  I’m training at a global conference for Social Marketing, speaking about the power of social media….

SAY WHAT?  How did I go from “fraidy cat” to stepping on stage in front of thousands???

Welp, when I started my career in social marketing six years ago, I knew it wasn’t mandatory to speak in public – but to be real, I wanted to finally face my fear and show this anxiety who was boss.  So I started doing some research and implementing some little tips and tricks to help me gain confidence with public speaking – AND IT WORKED.  Please know I still get mega nervous, but I’ve learned how to manage it AND…even enjoy it!  Over the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of speaking in front of a great number of crowds for work and here’s what’s consistently helped me:

  1. Visualization: Hands down this has been the number one tool I’ve used to help me calm the crack down before an event.  A few weeks out, I’ll start visualizing myself on stage, or in front of people, speaking calmly….smiling even, and having fun.  I visualize the entire event, right down to how good I feel when it’s OVER. I focus on an overall feeling of well being when I’m in front of people, and even picture people smiling BACK at me from the audience.
  2. Breathing: Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body, period. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax.  So it’s no surprise that this does the trick right before I step on stage.  Even a few deep, slow, focused breathes can immediately make you feel better!
  3. Creating an intention: This might sound super basic, but this tip is super helpful.  Each time I step on stage, I create an intention for that act.  For instance, this week for my training, my intention is to really help everyone in that arena get the most out of social media and their business.  It’s my intention to be at ease, to have fun, and to have them at ease and having fun while they learn a bit more about how to grow a massive business online.  I want them to win, and I want my focus to be on giving my all to them so they leave bettered.  Creating and focusing on my intention for each speaking engagement helps me not only stay calm but realize that it really isn’t about me – it’s about helping other people.  It’s always helpful to not take yourself TOO seriously, and to focus on what you can offer your audience.

Hopefully this helps some of you fellow nervous wrecks out there!  Remember that sometimes we have to feel the fear, and do it anyways…..but you’re not alone AND you have some pretty cool tools to help you! Even if you’re picturing them naked or whatever the heck works for you (do people still do that?).

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