There was a young boy who was always so confident in defending his views within his little circle, he was so much of a talkative, so chatty, that his classmates decided to choose him as the spoke person to represent their group in the school Debate. It was a big event for them so they researched well and got great points for him to voice it .
The paper was well compiled and handed to him ,he was to cap it and win for their group. They were so sure he would deliver as he mounted the stage to speak, after the other group finished their presentation. With anticipation and assurance they watched; breathing heavily, he started, “Teachers are better than Doctors because, because, because, Teachers are better than Doctors because, because, because ….” the group he was representing became apprehensive as they watched him throw all their efforts away. For them, it wasn’t funny, for the other group, it was rib-tickling .
The neatly dressed young boy was all puffed out, nervously staring, red eyes. The place became noisy, a little taunt here and there, he kept on with the repetition until the bell chimed, his time was over, and they lost.
For many years, I have been running away from public speaking, I have been so comfortable on the bench. I was called for a talk and I simply said “I will sleep on it” I slept over it for months till the opportunity faded away. I was losing out on a lot of things including my voice. I preferred scribbling behind a Screen. Then I made a decision to change. Watch me take the stage soon.
At some point, we all have to communicate in front of people. When you perceive the consequences you are faced with fright, you sweat, your blood pressure rises, you develop a tight throat, you are filled with thoughts like “what if people think I am an awful idiot?” and then you freak out. This is not all in your head; don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s natural and inevitable. It’s more for some and less for some and others have learnt to manage theirs.
Someone once said the fear is animalistic, no matter how civilized and polished we are, there is still that primitive tendency to react when we encounter something that is scary to us. This is likened to a Cheetah encountering a Lion. This type of Fear is also in humans. It’s the fear of being laughed at or being a Failure. The over secretion of adrenaline generates this nervous feeling; some will rather die than climb the stage to say “My name is …..”
A lot of people will do brilliantly but they won’t speak up .Most of us have ideas and good opinion but we simply can’t express ourselves because we are scared we rather hide and whisper or chat within our circles than share on a bigger platform. Most humans feel this way; the difference is just that some fear more than others. Some of us have this challenge of a second language, English not being our mother tongue; especially the once colonized nations. And we are not fluent enough to speak in English-speaking gatherings so we rather keep quiet.
It’s quite unfortunate that, we measure each other’s intelligence based on their being able to speak English or not. This is totally not right. This is another topic for another day.
The good news is that the concept of Growth mindset gives us so much hope, knowing that we can learn and improve on ourselves; I compiled a few ways to overcome this type of cold feet. As this may help us achieve more and advance in our various careers. Speakers are viewed as more intelligent, so you give them what they want. This will also help in our interviews and generally in living a more fulfilled life. Do something about it. It’s a teachable skill
- Practice breathing technique, Breathe in and out-A relaxed breathing pattern is linked to confidence.
- Over preparedness works, rehearse well. Steve jobs rehearsed his speeches for hundreds of hours. Get your points in place. Know what you are talking about.
- Take yourself out of the picture and focus on delivering the message and what they will benefit from it. Put the audience in the picture, this way, you will not focus so much on what others will say of you.
- Make eye contact with those who are supportive enough in the audience,stay focused on them ,be genuine and tell the truth. Sometimes even self –deprecation can help you out of an awkward moment, chip it in, smile, laugh and don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Move around while talking and don’t forget to gesticulate this deflates nervousness. Remember this; you can do it. It’s a time and platform for you to seize and be the best. Don’t run to hide instead. Live your dreams.
- Get a coach, professional trainer or Train yourself on this by Taking online courses…
- Affirmations can be beneficial. Not necessarily talking in front of the mirror, though this too is helpful, but convincing yourself that you can’t please everyone so you will go for those who appreciate you or have confidence that you are still a work in progress .And also acting on the fact that the voice is an instrument, train it… Practice makes perfect.