Is Public speaking Torture for You?

A few weeks ago, I received this question from a coaching client:

“You know what is most frustrating to me? I feel like I am a rather calm person – I really don’t feel like a person who runs with high anxiety.

“As a nurse and as a mom and a wife and a student, I am so chill compared to others that I see around me. So why is public speaking so tortuous for me?? Why do others that I view as so much more anxiety-ridden in everyday life make public speaking look so easy?!”

I thought this was a great question, so I thought you might be interested in my response.

Finding your Calm

So here’s my response:

First let me say that I’m glad to hear you have a sense of being a calm person. This means you do have a reference point for where calmness lives in your body. You can identify that sensation of being at ease.

However, it sounds like you have trouble finding that reference point when you’re speaking in public.

I think the answer is to learn to access your calm center even when speaking in public, so then you can quickly find your way back to your center whenever you need to.

I know you will say, “But how?”

The “how” is through the work you are already doing with me… noticing your body state change as it happens. It’s catching the state change in your body as it begins to shift into anxiety.

Once you…

…notice the change begin to happen.

…sense the anxiety coming.

…Notice the early signs of the “torture” begin.

… you can train yourself to interrupt the pattern of anxiety and make a new path back to your calm center.

Retrain your Nervous System

So, it is a “re-training” of your nervous system. Because you, like many people, have some underlying negative conditioning when it comes to being comfortable expressing yourself in public.

Remember that as little ones, our brains aren’t developed. So when we are young, we lay down tracks about where and when it is safe to be ourselves. What happens, is these old “wires” get triggered and public speaking anxiety takes you completely away from your calm self.

You disconnect from the part of you that knows how to be chill. How to be calm. You enter into a state where it feels like a “torture chamber.”

I see that you mentioned others who seem to be more anxious people, but “appear” calmer when they speak.

I don’t have an explanation for why they appear calmer, except that I think everyone has their own story. We can’t make any assumptions about what goes on inside of them, or what they may have gone through in their past.

Bottom line is this… I know you can train yourself to stay in a calm state… regardless of the situation. This is why someone once referred to my work this way, as “finding grace under extreme stress.”

You can Find Ease while Speaking in Public

The change will be gradual, but like learning any new skill, with intention, guidance, and support, you can find yourself totally at ease while speaking.

The discomfort will be there, but the first step is to believe that change is possible. To believe you can speak even when you’re afraid.

It helps to visualize yourself in the state you want to be in: calm, centered, and collected.

Then you can take yourself into and through the fear (and beyond), while at the same time connecting to your calm, centered self…I call this your Essence.

And when you’re connected to your Essence… and you speak from your Essence… that’s where the “torture chamber” melts away, and you’re in the public speaking equivalent of Disneyland! 😉

The first step is to just believe it’s possible to speak in public and stay calm, then you can “catch” the fear and anxiety as it happens, and change the pattern.

To discover how to melt your anxiety and find ease while speaking in public, contact me directly for more information or to learn more about the courses I offer click here.

Doreen Hamilton

About Doreen Hamilton

Doreen Hamilton, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychologist with over thirty years of experience, the Training Director of Speaking Circles® International, and the founder of Essential Speaking. She specializes in the treatment of anxiety caused by the fear of speaking. In addition to her authentic communication workshops and private coaching, she leads Speaking Circles in Berkeley, CA, along with teleconferences, e-courses and seminars throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

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