Root of Presentation Fear

I was talking to a friend the other day that explained that she had just met a massage therapist that was holistically assisting people to overcome fears by reprograming the brain of sorts. She went on to explain that through massage and deep thought, you can train yourself to associate relaxation and positive things with whatever once caused an individual’s fears. Stop, this sounds familiar to how I talk about overcoming the fear of public speaking. So, what is the root of presentation fear?

Let’s first understand where fear comes from. Fear is a response to something that is perceived as being threatening, dangerous, or harmful and fear can cause a person to feel nervous, anxious, and even impair bodily functions by interfering with thought and speaking abilities. Humans are born with two instinctual fears, falling and sudden loud noises. Learned fears, such as the fear of public speaking, begin in the area of the brain where emotions are regulated and are generally learned by negative association with a past experience.

Some people “talk” themselves into a fear of public speaking because they are fearful of judgment and feel inadequate. Others create this fear based on another person’s experiences or the thought of what could go wrong. The fear of public speaking is a fear that you can overcome with proper preparation and exercises. Presenters should remember that the audience is actually rooting for your success, not your demise.

blog_offer_6_fears_guideWhen the body becomes overly stressed, it begins to expel the negative energy. The expulsion of negative energy occurs in ways that the audience can see like jittery hands, pacing, or stumbling on your words trying to remember what to say.

Psychologists agree that preparation can cure up to 75% of stage fright. Preparation alone does not cure 100% of stage fright. You will likely always face some residual nervousness just like the professional speakers experience, but it’s manageable. (The majority of experience presenters still have some nervousness when speaking in public, but their experience and confidence allows them to channel that extra adrenaline into energy.) Practicing your presentations removes nervousness because you know what you are going to say. Knowing what comes next allows the body to cope with a normal amount of stress without interfering with your delivery.

The challenge with a continued fear of public speaking is in today’s world most professionals need to present more often than they once did. Listeners don’t need a professional keynote speaker to deliver a message, just you.

One contributing factor to the fear of public speaking is the overwhelming thought that a presentation needs to have an over the top production like a Broadway show with lights and microphones and lots of coordinating aspects. To anybody who gets overwhelmed by presentations, you’ve got the wrong idea. Think simpler. Talking to a small group of co-workers in a conference room with no visual aide is still a presentation, even though you have no stage, podium, or microphone.

Keep in mind, the root of the fear of public speaking is bad experiences and one’s imagination. It’s not complicated to overcome but does require effort. The best way to overcome it is to do it – plan out your presentation, practice it, and keep in mind that your audience, whether a full auditorium or a few co-workers, are rooting for you.

Additional Resources

  • Get strategies and best practices for developing winning presentations by downloading one of my presentation ebooks.
  • Master winning presentations by graduating from SpeakU!
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How Speak Simple Can Help You

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