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How to overcome your fear of public speaking

CALM AND IN CONTROL: No matter how uncomfortable you feel, you can complete a speech

THE FEAR of public speaking is one of the greatest causes of panic attacks.

Such fear of public speaking may be as basic as a meeting in the office, not necessarily on a podium giving a speech. The fear of public speaking and panic attacks in this case is based on having an attack in the middle of the talk. The person imagines being stuck for words and being forced to flee the office, much to the amazement of fellow workers.

There is a difference between having a fear of public speaking because of suffering panic attacks and just a general shyness of speaking in public.

But the question is, how does someone tackle their fear of public speaking?

Firstly, you need to accept your fear of public speaking and panic attacks will not disappear overnight. Essentially what you need to do is build your confidence back up.

You may be surprised to know that the best public speakers have great anxiety, but use it in a positive fashion to drive them through their public speaking.

BREAKTHROUGH

You need to understand that you can experience a panic attack and anxiety during public speaking and the audience will never know. You will be able to finish your talk and everything will be fine. No matter how uncomfortable you may feel, you will be able to finish.

The real breakthrough in terms of fear of public speaking and panic attacks is the knowledge that you will not be in danger and will be able to finish your talk without issue. It is all based on fear. Once you no longer fear the fear of public speaking and panic attacks, you will no longer have a problem.

Self-doubt is another major issue. The minute you think, 'I will not be able to cope or finish' is the minute you allow the panic attack to take over. Your self-doubt triggers adrenaline, which allows the panic attack to take control like a giant wave over your body. The minute you feel this wave of adrenaline, you need to condition your mind and oppose this sensation to give into the panic attack. Your natural response to the feeling of the panic attack coming on might be, 'I am about to have a panic attack and I really can’t afford that to happen in the middle of this speech'. Normally, the person suffering from fear of public speaking and panic attacks would confirm the question and give in and let the panic attack take control. What you should do however, is say something like the following to yourself: 'There you are – I have been waiting for you to arrive, I am prepared and you do not pose any danger to me anymore'.

The key factor in controlling your fear is that instead of suppressing the emotional energy, you are overcoming it. Your body will be in a naturally excited state and you can now use that to your advantage. Push out this nervous energy rather than internalising it. Your presentation will become more lively and energetic. You should want more from the anxiety as it is feeding your presentation now rather than holding it back. This might seem like a lot to think about while you are concentrating on your presentation, however you would be surprised how much your mind can deal with simultaneously.

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