Before my first TEDx Talk, I was a total wreck. I was crying every day leading up to the event. On the day of, I was so nervous I could barely speak to anyone. Hours before the speech, I was nauseous and frantically going over my speech, convincing myself I didn’t know it well enough and wasn’t ready. My fear of public speaking, at its core, was the result of the fear of being judged, letting my audience down, and not being seen as credible.
Getting on that stage and going through with my speech was one of the hardest challenges in my professional life.
When people came to me after my TEDx and said, “you were so confident and natural, I wish I was like you,” I want to remind them that I was a nervous wreck. Even to this day, hundreds of speeches later, I still feel anxiety as I walk onto stages. The fear of public speaking is a lifelong fear we cannot truly fully conquer. Instead, we need to learn how to manage it in a variety of ways so that we do not allow it to hinder us from accomplishing our dreams.
Bigger than my fear is my passion for helping others and sharing my messages with the world. The last thing I want is for my passion and my message to be crushed due to my fear of public speaking. I used various methods that have helped me, and I wrote about them in the past. However, in this blog, I want to share three unconventional ways that I have used as well. I realized that not many people talk about.
1. Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
In my opinion, this is the best hidden secret to managing the fear of public speaking. EFT is a method used to relieve anxiety and other physiological issues by tapping with our figures on certain acupuncture points of our bodies to calm us down. This is also known as “tapping.” Before all of my speeches I tap on the EFT points of my body to relieve anxiety. It is an easy and simple technique we can all use discretely up until the moment of the speech. Check out this link with information about EFT, the points, and the science behind it.
Visualization is an extremely powerful technique that I use before every speech. For me, the hardest part of presenting is walking on stage and saying the first few words. So, I usually visualize myself over and over walking out on stage, giving my speech, and then walking off stage. My fear at the beginning of my speaking career was so intense that even as I was visualizing before the event, it was making my heart race; however, the more I practiced, the less anxious I become with each visualization.
Additionally, if my speech is local, I always visit the venue before the day of the event so I can get a feel for the space and visualize myself actually there. This way, when it is time to give the actually speech the space is not foreign to me. I also snap a few pictures while I’m there so I can keep the memory of the venue fresh in my mind. If the event is not local, I usually google pictures of the venue so I can do the same. This helps me feel comfortable with my surroundings when I go to deliver my speech, which decreasing my anxiety.
3. Calling on Others for Emotional and Spiritual Support
When I just started giving speeches, I used to call my coach ahead of time and have her live on the phone as I gave my talk. I don’t know why, but this made me feel so much less alone on the stage to know that someone who was rooting for me was on the line listening. I also use to have my mom, uncle, and friends pray for me before major speaking events, again being comforted knowing that people have me in their thoughts and something more powerful than me is helping. I suggest to anyone beginning their journey in public speaking to build a network of support to be there for them in ways like this as it is more important than we think.
Others forget that in order to manage our fears we must create support systems and get our spirituality in order. People often say it takes a village to raise a child, and likewise, I feel like it took a village to transform me into the keynote speaker I am today. I did not get to where I am professionally in my speaking career without a community of people who would practice with me, help me write my speeches, believe in me and be there to support me the day of. Having that community is a crucial element of success for any professional speaker.
It’s important to remember that even the professional speakers don’t have it all together either. But, their confidence comes from practice and continuous efforts to manage their anxiety every single time.
We must continuously make a conscious decision to find unique ways that we can use to manage our fear in whatever way possible. By doing so we are able to let our passion lead the way.