Are you terrified of public speaking?

For a lot of people the very idea of getting up on your hind legs and talking to an audience – any audience – is so frightening that they try to avoid it at all costs..

And believe me, I know how that feels.

At the tender age of 11 I found myself standing at a lectern in front of about 400 girls. They ranged in age from 9 to 16. The scene was a convent school chapel. I was an altar boy (long before the days when girls could do that, too). And part of my job was to deliver that day’s readings.

My pulse was racing. My knees were knocking. I was short of breath. Sweating. And very, very unsure of myself. But I did it anyway.

And I wish I’d known then what I know now…

The lizard in your head

Right at the back of your brain is its most primitive part – the hypothalamus.

In essence, that bit hasn’t changed very much since we were lizards. Simply (very simply) put, it controls the “four Fs”: fighting, fleeing, feeding, and fornication. So yes, you’re naturally worried about making a fool of yourself in public. But that’s too sophisticated for your  ‘lizard brain’. Your hypothalamus reads your fear and worry as a danger sign. So it will respond in the only way it can – by preparing you for flight or fight.

And the adrenalin starts to pump. Speeding up your heart rate. Speeding up your breathing rate. Making you sweat…

But also – and note this well – giving you a barrel-load of raw energy, increased awareness, and sharpened senses.

It’s not all bad!

Putting the lizard back in its box

Wouldn’t it be great if you could keep all the good things about that adrenalin rush – and shut down everything else?

Well – you can!

Because it’s (mostly) about your breathing.

The fact is that if you deliberately take deeper breaths, you can actually lower your blood pressure. I can vouch for that as someone who used to have high blood pressure. And was always careful to breathe deeply for several minutes before getting it measured. (I still do – but these days it’s more about seeing just how low I can get it…)

OK, it won’t stop you feeling nervous. (Not at first, anyway.) But it will help to deal with some of the things you don’t want. That racing heartbeat. The cold sweat. The trembling knees.

And when you stand tall at the lectern – not forgetting how to do that – it will also give you a good, big lungful of air for the opening words of your presentation.

But just before you start – there’s one final thing to remember.

More in our next…!

Need a little help? With delivery – or, perhaps, with the words? Then drop me an email (or give us a call on 01449 740118) so we can meet for a coffee and chat.

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