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10 Ways to Annihilate Fear

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10 Ways to Annihilate Fear

We all have things we fear. Some fears are more concrete, like the terror of spiders and snakes, while some fears go much deeper, sabotaging us so that we are unable to follow our dreams. Too often, we avoid our fears, unwilling to acknowledge that we have them. We hope that if we don’t give breath to their existence, they will become less real… It rarely works this way.

Instead, let’s put on a brave face and tackle our fears. In the darkness of ignorance, the monsters still reign over us, but in the light of knowledge and acceptance, they are seen for what they are: simply self-made straw men—unworthy of the terror they command.

1. Give up fear of failure

Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. – C. S. Lewis

Fear of failure is a huge problem for many people. Some people are so afraid to fail, they never try to do great things. However, most great successes are paved with failures. If you are afraid to fail, you will be too paralyzed to really excel. Many times, it is the failure that guides people to their greatest success. Learn to embrace it. A great question to ask yourself is, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Write down your answer, and then go do it.

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2. Know thine enemy

The first duty of man is to conquer fear; he must get rid of it; he cannot act till then.” Thomas Carlyle

Often, when we examine fear, we see that it’s just the unknown portion that scares us. We often fear what we don’t understand. When you take the time to understand why you’re afraid, you can properly address it. Instead of looking at the future expecting the worst to happen, turn your belief system around and expect the best. Often, dwelling on our fears gives them a voice of prediction in our lives. Don’t give fear that foothold. Envision your future as one full of hope and excitement!

3. Focus on past success

Ultimately, we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.” – Marilyn Ferguson

Our own visualization of fear often brings it to fruition. Think about when you are about to speak in public: a huge fear for some. Instead of seeing yourself doing well, you may think about how you might stutter over your sentences. What happens? You lose your train of thought and blow the presentation. You then reaffirm the belief that messing up speeches is all that you are capable of doing. Instead, focus on your past success. Remember how you did well speaking in rehearsals and visualize yourself giving the best speech of your life. What happens? You do amazingly! Visualization techniques are utilized by athletes and businessmen alike. Instead of giving fear any credence, conceptualize yourself successfully conquering fear—what you envision often will become reality.

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4. Realize that fear is often an illusionist

Fear is static that prevents me from hearing myself.” – Samuel Butler

Most of the things that we worry about never actually happen. Even when our worst fears do happen, we realize that it isn’t actually as bad as we believed. It’s like when you first start riding a bike: before you fall for the first time, the distance from the ground and the speed that the rocks whizz by seem so intimidating. However, once you fall and realize the actual impact isn’t nearly as bad as your imagination, you can ride confidently. Sure, it hurts to fall, but the joy of the ride is worth the risk. Give yourself permission to examine the worst-case scenario. Even if the catastrophe happened, in the grand scheme of life, is it really worth the anxiety? Probably not. You are tougher than you realize and will get through any humbling experience with more wisdom on better ways to go about your goals.

5. There are no monsters under your bed

There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” – Andre Gide

Some people have unrealistic belief systems, but they don’t acknowledge how nonsensical they sound until they are forced to think it through. For example, ascribing to a belief that demands that every person you interact with will like you is doomed to failure. It’s just not logical that you can meet every expectation of every person. Accepting this fact and understanding that disappointing others will happen in life often helps people address these unrealistic beliefs that cause them anxiety.

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6. Kill the moles before they make mountains

We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.” – Christian Nestell Bovee

Some people make things much worse in their own head than they are in reality, causing themselves more pain and greater fear. For example, imagine a person who fears societal judgements. They often do things they don’t want to do because they are worried that saying “no” will cause people to reject them. When asked if they would think poorly of a different individual who said they didn’t want to do something, the person will usually say that they would understand. When you ask them to turn this around and ascribe this same amiable attitude within themselves to others, they realize most people think as they do and would sympathize if they didn’t go along with their every whim. The fears in their heads make other people more easy to offend than reality.

7. Plan to strike at first dawn

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks

If certain fears are crippling your life, put together a plan to stand up to them. There is no shame in seeking help from a qualified counselor. You can also share your fears with mentors and accountability partners to help you work through them. Write down goals that help you face your fears in a healthy way so you can break free to a no-limits life.

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8. Fear the un-lived life

Great work is done by people who are not afraid to be great.” – Fernando Flores

One great visualization technique is to look at what holding onto your fear is doing to your future. Think about what would happen if you were never brave enough to change your thinking. If you are afraid to talk to others now, how will this impact your dating and social life years later? If you are afraid to take risks, what opportunities are you missing that could change your lifestyle for the better? If you are afraid to look silly at the gym, what illness can sneak into your life in a few more years due to excess weight or unhealthy habits? Let your un-altered future scare you enough to change it.

9. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

To fight fear, act. To increase fear – wait, put off, postpone.” – David Joseph Schwartz

Sometimes, you just have to jump. There are so many experiences (some did involve jumping) that I would have missed out on if I gave in to my fears. Your life will be much more full with memories of how you felt afraid, pushed past it, and learned you are stronger than you ever thought possible. Pushing past the fear creates self confidence, and you become emboldened to take on more challenges in life, even if they scare you. Once you accept that growth begins outside of your comfort zone, you are ready to challenge yourself to face your worst demons.

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10. Create dreams that make you brave

In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” – Bill Cosby

Sometimes, people are often not motivated to face their fears because they haven’t entertained what life can be like on the other side of them. When you allow yourself to dream, suddenly your fears pale in comparison to all the excitement of the brave new world just beyond them. Create dreams that inspire change. You will find that when you let go of the fear, you really are free to become the person you always knew you could be.

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Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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:

Warming up

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:

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Stay hydrated

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.

Meditate

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.

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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.[1]

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.

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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.[2]

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.

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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:

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  • 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:

Reference

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