Do you become anxious at the thought of presenting or public speaking?
Is this fear holding you back in your career, your education or your private life?
Perhaps you feel anxiety at the mere thought of speaking in public, maybe you feel completely overwhelmed at the very thought of standing in front of a crowd, possibly you are turning down opportunities to grow within your career? It could even be that it is costing you money if you are missing out on that promotion?
Well imagine right now instead that you had the courage and confidence to speak up. Imagine you were not only able to share your thoughts and opinions, but you actually enjoyed being in front of an audience. Imagine you were able to progress up the career ladder and even earn money from your new skill.
“Jennifer is absolutely a must to work with if you want to get from nervous to confident … For 2 years I had been listening to so called gurus…. She is a master Jedi at helping you with public speaking and managing anxiety. Highly recommended”
If you are struggling with anxiety and nerves, then you are not alone. The fear of public speaking is the No 1 fear in America, even higher than the fear of death.
Public speaking anxiety (PSA) is a form of social anxiety, and it is reported to be as prevalent in up to 77% of the general population. Many people with public speaking anxiety report that it interferes with daily activities, including work and education.
People with a fear of public speaking are often confident in other areas of their life but freeze when they are in the spotlight. This is often due to a previous event in their life where they have felt judged or been criticised in the past, and can stem as far back as their school days.
Anxiety around public speaking can be debilitating and career-limiting, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be changed right now.
I had avoided speaking in front of an audience for 30+ years, throughout my entire corporate career. I was surrounded by my successful teams and I was able to hide behind them, putting everyone else forward to speak. The more I avoided speaking up, the more I became fearful of it.
My anxiety stemmed back to an incident at school where I was ridiculed for mispronouncing a word. In fact, I had my first ever panic attack at the age of 11, from being asked to read at the front of the class.
However, I realised that while I was teaching others how to overcome their anxiety, I wasn’t addressing my own fear. So I took action. I decided I was going to train as a public speaker.
I was petrified, but I knew I couldn’t grow if I wasn’t prepared to be vulnerable. I kept reminding myself of my why…..
Why was I doing this?
Because I wanted to be able to grow and serve my clients to the best of my ability. I wanted to be able to get my message out to as many people as possible that no one needs to struggle with anxiety. Because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone so I could build my dream of running a charity that helps teenagers and young adults overcome their anxious thoughts and feelings. Because I wanted to inspire my daughter and lead by example.
But this is just how I am, right?
No, I already knew that we are born with only two fears, the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises, so logically I knew that my fear of speaking in public was a learnt response, and could therefore be unlearnt.
I was able to work out exactly when my fear started, and was able to acknowledge how I am not the same person today, as I was back in my school days. I was also able to work out what drove that fear in me, and this is key to understanding how to unravel it.
I had always got myself in such a state at the very thought of standing in front of an audience, so I knew I had to manage my state before I got on stage. I used breathing and visual techniques to manage this, just like I teach my clients for all kinds of anxiety.
Our fight and flight response is there to keep us safe, but I knew I wasn’t actually in danger. My brain was perceiving I was in danger because I was afraid I would be judged and rejected by my audience. This is an evolutionary response because when we were living in caves and were part of a tribe, rejection from the group would mean certain death as we were unable to hunt, keep the fire going and sleep without the whole tribe contributing to the group’s survival. But logically, if my audience was to judge me, it was just my feelings that would have been hurt. It wasn’t a life and death situation.
I learnt how to tell my story so my audience were fully engaged. I was able to take them on a journey with me so I could get my point across, and they would know, like and trust me.
I had a system to follow, based on a handful of prompts, so I didn’t need to memorise notes. My chosen subject to talk about was how to overcome anxiety. How ironic! But I know my subject inside and out. I had 30+ years of my own personal experience of anxiety as well as what I have learnt when coaching colleagues and clients. This system enabled me to overcome the dreaded brain freeze, when you forget what you are planning to say next.
I was aware that if I was talking to my clients, I always knew the right thing to say, so by learning one really simple trick, I had confidence that I would never forget what to say next.
I passionately believe that no one needs to struggle with anxiety and I can talk about all the reasons why for hours. This enabled me to craft my story with ease, and captivate my audience. I thought my voice was a little wobbly the first time I spoke, but my audience didn’t seem to notice. In fact they found my story inspiring and wanted to know how many years I had been speaking from the stage. I saw them nodding along to what I was saying, relating to everything. This naturally increased my own confidence in what I was delivering.
And then I practiced and practiced and practiced. I know not to aim for perfection, as it is never achievable, but I was willing to try my best.
I have spoken at large corporate companies and schools. I have spoken on global stages at multiple events. I am now a multi award winning professional speaker.
And the funniest thing? I love being able to spread my message to more and more people, and I love speaking on stages!!!
If anxiety is something you or your loved ones struggle with regularly, then please get in touch to discuss how I can help you overcome the underlying cause of your anxiety, so you can live your best life.
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