We all want to heal the world and make it a better place. And it is vital. However, before you begin to attempt launching on the world stage and getting involved in the lives of family, friends, and, in a few cases, people you do not even know, put a spotlight on yourself.
Are you feeling drained and exhausted with everyone needing or wanting something from you? Our boundaries are mixed when we float on sensitive and caring bubbles.The toxic bubbles start bursting those bubbles. Even if we convince ourselves that is it beneficial, red lights will appear and all comes to a halt. You feel like no one cares when you are the one that really has an issue.
Do for Yourself As You Do Unto Others
Now everybody needs to be liked, but remember that you can easily slip into this mission the wrong way. You first need to focus on liking yourself before getting others to like you. You bend over backwards for other people all the time, and yes, they may like all you do for them. But ask yourself, do you actually like you? With more inner stability, you become less of an emotional roller coaster.
Change your negativity; control your emotions and your feelings. Happiness does not depend on external factors. It links directly to your sense of contentment. It is possible and easy to be happy by just being yourself. You need to accept who you are to grow. Your mind cannot simply be logged into. People cannot just explore how you feel and how you are doing, they can just assume it.
We are constantly bogged down with the needs of others. Our time, energy, and space leaves no personal productivity. A crucial way forward is learning the gentle art of saying no. It is great to get compliments from others, but if you rely on validation of how good you are from others, you can easily plunge into an emotional roller coaster. When you appreciate yourself, you do not go out of your way unnecessarily and people start to like the real you. There is a lack of genuineness in your gestures if you camouflage yourself according to different strokes for the different folks you’re surrounded by to fit in.
Healing the Scars of Sacrifice
When you are too busy focusing on the needs of everybody else around you, like your spouse, your children, and your friends, you give little thought to yourself and your own needs. The noble tunes of self-sacrifice has a soul rhythm does it not? We are taught, instilled with, and ingrained with doing for others before ourselves.
Have you noticed that people who self-sacrifice the most always get the short end of the stick when they do decide to do something for themselves and go out and play? They become the substitute and standby players. And the ones who seem the most selfish end up in top ranks. Question that. You have been taught that it is selfish to think about you. It may be desirable putting your loved ones before you, but withholding your own needs will be a backslide for you. It is affirming to the world that you do not matter.
Now, let us examine what emotional needs really are. If you are not clear about your emotional needs to yourself, you are not clear to others. To thrive in the life game, you need to resolve conflicts, be aware of emotional needs, and ensure you get them met.
All around, you take the support you provide for granted, while you perceive your own needs as self-absorbed. If you do not value your needs, nobody can value them. People treat us in the way we demand to be treated. If we treat ourselves as if we have no value, others will treat us that way excessively. And then we get frustrated when we get no respect. Others treat you with no regards for your own needs because ultimately, you do not have regard for yourself.
The Plan of Action
Do this exercise: picture yourself in a happy personal or business relationship. How would you ideally be treated in that picture? Would they linger around you all the time or give you your own space? Write down in detail what the perfect relationship would entail.
Now, break down the written details with your own needs. An example you may note is that the person of your dreams allows you personal space, meaning that your emotional needs include personal space and someone with other interests that will not smother yours.
What are your needs? Make a note of them:
List your main priorities in the current stage.
Examine your key values and if you are living a life aligned with them.
What are your immediate goals? What are your goals for the year ahead?
How do you prefer spending your time?
What is an activity or project that you would like to start?
Ask yourself, what do you get from being the savior and the rescuer to everyone around you or getting caught up in the life maze and dramas of others? If you are too focused on everybody else, what can you do for your own life? In fact, by not helping others, you help them move forward. People need to make their own decisions and find their own solutions and, when you do this for them, you are not really helping them. If you take a step back and get to you know yourself, meeting your own needs will make you happy. And if everyone did this, the world will be a much better place.
You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.
Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:
If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.
If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.
Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.
To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.
Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.
Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.
Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.
Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:
2. Focus on your goal
One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.
Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’
Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.
Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.
If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.
3. Convert negativity to positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’
It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.
Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
4. Understand your content
Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.
However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.
“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor
Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.
Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.
One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.
5. Practice makes perfect
Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.
In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.
Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
6. Be authentic
There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.
Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.
Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.
To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.
With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.
Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:
7. Post speech evaluation
Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.
Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation
We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.
You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.
Improve your next speech
As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:
How did I do?
Are there any areas for improvement?
Did I sound or look stressed?
Did I stumble on my words? Why?
Was I saying “um” too often?
How was the flow of the speech?
Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.
If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too: