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How to Cope With Public Speaking

How to Cope With Public Speaking

As a broadcaster who’s active on TV and radio, I have seen people sweat and get nervous as they sit and get ready to speak live on air. I’ve seen numerous people feel the rough hands of fear clutching them by the collar once they think about the great multitudes of people who’ll listen to them as they speak.

Their palms would become wet with sweat, their heart would pound with the rhythm of a galloping stallion, and they’d turn a nervous teenage wreck. When they finally open their mouths to talk, their voice would quiver. Some would even have dry mouth, and worse, would be lost for words because they would be overwhelmed with fear.

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Research and studies have, time and again, declared that fear of public speaking is the number one fear.

How to STOP fearing public speaking and do it better.

1. Prepare.

You dread public speaking because you don’t know what to say. Here’s what you should do about it: get a piece of paper and a pen and start jotting down your thoughts on what you’ll chat about. Do your due diligence. I’ll give you the most common and simplest speaking assignment–introducing someone on a podium for a certain event. Wise up. Go talk to the person you’ll introduce. Find out directly who she is and how she wants to be introduced. You will also realize the significant events, achievements, and her credentials pertinent to the occasion she was invited for in the first place. When you do this step, your task is 50% done. Preparation is key.

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2. Psych yourself.

What is the worst thing that can happen if you stand up and talk? You can be embarrassed and booed on stage. That’s the worst that could happen. Unless you will speak about a delicate national issue which is unlikely, that’s the worst malady you could encounter. No one will sue you if you speak in front of a crowd. However, if you complete first tip–prepare–properly, you will never be embarrassed. Convince yourself of this: you will prepare thoroughly, and studiously, and you’ll be effective in your talk. It’s pretty straightforward and simple.

3. Know your audience.

How will you know how to deliver your piece if you don’t know your audience? By all means, get to know your audience. More specifically, aim to be intimate with your audience. Know their eccentricities, their pain or aches, their desires, their longings. What would they want to know, to hear, to talk about? What are their interests? Know their age bracket. Demographics has always been an integral part of discovering your audience, so go and research about it. In fact, from a Marketing standpoint, discovering the most trivial info, like the brand of coffee your customer prefers, is an edge over the competition. This bit of information, if maximized intelligently, will absolutely help you to kill your competitor, and ultimately, make you invincible. Apply this marketing principle in your talk and you will be victorious.

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4. Be an expert on your topic.

Let’s say you are assigned to speak about love. The best thing to do is to recall your own experiences about love. You should also research as many definitions of love you can find. Study them. Then pick instances in your own life and connect them to specific love definitions. Maybe if you are given more time to prepare, you can interview a love expert. That way, you can add all of these bits and pieces to your treasure of love gems. Your goal is to become a love expert before climbing the pulpit. When you finally grab the spotlight, you’ll be ready to rock the house.

5. Visualize.

The fear of public speaking is related to the fear of criticism. This fear is related to the fear of people’s opinions. I have an amusing solution to this. I learned it when I was still in my teens training to become a radio Disc-Jockey. The trick is this: Imagine that you’re talking to a group of people who are only wearing undies. Visualize that scene. I’m pretty sure you’ll be smiling before you open up your mouth to talk. And when you start this way, you will realize that the best way to face this challenge is to not take yourself too seriously. When you are finally up on that stage, relax, take 3 deep breaths, smile and say hello to your audience. If you are still nervous after saying hello, read your first two lines with all the confidence you can muster. After your first two lines, move on to your third and your fourth, and so on. Usually, when you are done with your first ten sentences, you are good as done. Your talk will flow like it’s being delivered by a professional.

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6. Conduct an ocular inspection.

Acquaint yourself with the venue of the event where you will speak. Make an ocular inspection to check how big your venue is. This is a very important step because by knowing the size of the venue, you will be able to decide how big or small your movements will be. If it is a huge hall, you will need to plan to have big hand gestures and body movements. If the size of the venue is like your high school classroom, then adjust accordingly. Just a twitch of your eyebrow will be seen by your audience. A half smile can be flashed to emphasize a point, for instance. If you check your speaking venue first, you will also discover whether you will have the freedom to walk to and fro on an isle, or you will be confined to the stage. These tiny bits of information will spell the difference whether or not, you will have a successful talk.

7. Read, watch, and listen to good speakers.

The Web is teeming with sites, videos, lectures, tutorials featuring great speakers. Allot time to watch and listen to them. What makes them tick? How do they maintain the audience’s interest? What do they do to catch your attention? Do they use humor to fill in gaps when you lost interest on the portion of their talk that is not too interesting? Did you notice that they have arranged the details of their talk in a manner that helps you to easily comprehend the topic and the sub-topics? To make it plain and simple–learn from the great public speakers.

One such speaker who has inspired me in an intense way is Peter J. Daniels. He comes from a disadvantaged background and was challenged with poor education in his younger years. His family was third generation welfare recipients, and he has two brothers who were alcoholics. To make matters worse, a lot of his relatives have been jailed. Consequently, at every grade in school, he failed, so he became a bricklayer. At 26, he was swimming in debt, and as fate has allowed it, in 1959 he attended a Billy Graham Crusade. After this momentous encounter, he went on to build successful businesses and became one of the best platform speakers the world has ever known. I suggest, you check Peter out and learn from the videos of his great speaking engagements.

You have a phobia of public speaking? Fret no more. Review the info above every time you’ll be assigned to speak, and you’ll be ready.

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Anthony Dejolde

TV/Radio personality who educates his audience on entrepreneurship, productivity, and leadership.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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