Fear … friend or foe?

Being nervous is often associated with public speaking. Common symptoms associated with thinking about or performing a public speaking task include a pounding heart, butterflies in the stomach, trembling, sweating, hot/cold flushes and negative thoughts, to name but a few.

Being fearful of public speaking is quite natural. Being the centre of attention can be daunting, and there’s a lot to think about while we’re performing a public speaking task – after all, we need to remember what we prepared, we want to get our message across effectively, and we want to engage the audience, all at the same time!

Some studies have shown that there is a correlation between fear and performance; you may have heard of the human performance curve.

Although hard to believe, experiencing a moderate amount of fear and arousal before a speech or an interview or other public speaking task is actually useful. We become more focused and alert, preparing us for the task ahead. At these times, the fear we experience is our ally and works in our favour.

On the other hand, if one is too relaxed before a public speaking task, the performance can come across as being flat. You might recall having sat through a speech where a person seemed a little too laid back and even boring.  In this case, the absence of fear, surprisingly, works against us!

Being too stressed detracts from a performance. For example, you might have sat through a speech where the person came across as being too tense and anxious. In other words, too much fear can debilitate.

Being conscious of the positive and negative aspects of fear can be useful in developing strategies to manage your public speaking nerves.

If you’d like to learn more about these strategies, why not contact us to see how we can help?

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