The Day I Almost Fled the Room

stage fright

Mind: Breathe. Relax. Get a grip.
Body: What if I choke?
Mind: Don’t worry, you’ve got this!
Body: What if my voice cracks?
Mind: Pause, take a deep breath, sip some water.

Lub dub, lub dub.

Heart in throat, I could literally feel my chest exploding. It was this epic battle between Mind and Body. Mind was fighting to gain control; Body was drenched in adrenaline as the fight-or-flight response kicked in: palms sweating, hands trembling, heart racing, breath shallow, and mouth dry like cotton.

I felt like Moses when he argued with God about leading the Israelites:

O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled (Exodus 4:10–13).

I was gripped with glossophobia—fear of public speaking—accompanied by a foreboding sense of doom. The stakes were high. Though it crossed my mind, I couldn’t very well flee and run. I was in it to win. Besides, how would I look myself in the mirror again?

See, I’m uncomfortable in the spotlight. I don’t enjoy that “all-eyes-on-me” feeling. Thankfully Mind won over Body, but what about next time?

How do you deal with public speaking? Any tips for turning nerves into friends versus foes? And no, picturing people naked doesn’t work for me.

Taking a deep breath …

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22 thoughts on “The Day I Almost Fled the Room

  1. I personally think it comes down to self confidence honestly. One thing I learned quickly through force this year was the fake it until you make it mentality. I think deep within that can and will defeat this challenge.

    Public speaking nerves come from believe others are judging- which they are. If you can decide you will dominate the speech, and that you’re already a pro- it will help. I use energy from the nerves to mask the physical appearance of being nervous.

    Decide you are the best, and you’re 90% there. The doubt is where all the nerves come from.

    -Michael Dooley
    leaderdevelopmentblog.com

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    • I agree with everything you’ve said. It just gets tricky when you’re live in the thick of things and doubt creeps in. But, yes self confidence and deciding that you’re the best are huge strides towards overcoming fear of public speaking. Thanks very much for your advice Michael.

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  2. I think all of us have stage frights, we just need to make it past the challenge. Why not asking the crowd first on how they are feeling? You will be able to get a grasp of what kind of group you are about to speak to, hoping from there everything will fall into place. 🙂

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  3. Hi! I remember taking a Public Speaking class in college and was scared because I was so much older to the rest of the students. I learned and received good grades from my classmates and my instructor.
    I’m not really afraid any more after all they are people like you and me. They perform basically the same activities as I do. I am going to join the group Toast Master, so I can improve on my speaking. There are so many subjects dear to my heart that I want to share with others. I figure this way I can learn the correct way of speaking.
    Good topic.

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    • Hi there!!

      I’ve heard about Toast Masters. We even have a local branch near where I live. Maybe I should check it out as well.

      I agree that they’re just people like you and me. But sometimes when the pressure for success is so high, the body can do crazy things to you.

      And it’s so true that to motivate and lead others, you must be comfortable and confident with speaking in front of crowds.

      Please keep me posted on how Toast Masters works out for you. And thanks so much for the encouraging words and tips. It helps to know I’m not alone with this crazy phobia.

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    • And isn’t it so annoying and frustrating?

      Lol, but the irony is that writing also requires you to be vulnerable People are reading and critiquing your thoughts on paper or screen. As much as I love to write, I’m also determined to do better with public speaking…God help me!

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      • I’ll say a prayer!!! 🙂 I don’t mind being vulnerable on paper, but to this day I hate speaking in public, and I am one of the most outgoing people EVER!!! lol picturing them naked doesn’t even help. although one time, I did start a speech by saying to someone in the audiance “nice granny pannies”, got a laugh, but I still shook the entire time! hehehe

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  4. The last time I stood in front of a group of people to speak, I felt my knees giving way and I realized that my focus was on the fear, so I quoted a verse ( 2 Timothy 1:7) to myself in my mind, and the next thing I knew I was relaxed and even laughing along with the others. So, for me, refocusing on the Spirit’s power empowered me to speak boldly with joy. You are an excellent writer – that tells me you would be a wonderful speaker too! 🙂 It’s in you… just let it out.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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    • For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

      Such a powerful truth. Thanks bringing back the focus Wendy. Getting out of my head and surrendering all to God is always the answer 🙂

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  5. What has helped me with public speaking is to write out the entire speech and then practice it until I know it by heart. I still take my notes with me, just in case…. I also remind myself that there will be people who will really benefit from this talk, for whom (maybe) life can change because of the information you are passing on. It also helps to learn how to do deep breathing while visualizing speaking in front of a crowd. As long as you have your breath under control, your body cannot get anxious (anxiety and relaxation cannot exist at the same time because of opposite nervous system responses). If you want, you can probably find a book that will help you with this.

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    • Deep breathing, is so necessary. It’s something I need to practice. Because it is the heightened respiration that makes your body lose control as well, almost like you gasping and searching for air. So for sure, learning how to breath to calm the body is so important. Any hints on which books?

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      • Bupe – I was just looking thru my book shelves and out jumped these two books that include good descriptions of relaxation and breathing exercises: Visualizaiton for Change by Patrick Fanning and Strees Free for Good by Dr. Fred Luskin and Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier. I think either one would be a great start. My regards, Annette

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  6. A friend once told me something I found liberating. “when you stand in front of people to speak, remember–you have nothing to prove” . Not sure why, but this simple statement has carried me through many a nervous moments. I guess be okay being accepted/rejected and know that as long as you were true to who you are, it’s all good.

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    • Yeah. But sometimes you do have something to prove. I guess then it’s about being ok with your performance no matter what. I’m not good at failing, and I’m always self-analyzing, so this is where I stumble. I just need to draw more strength and confidence from God so that I’m steadfast in all situations, like you said. Thanks for the great feedback.

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      • I see what you’re saying. I guess it all depends with the content/context you’re delivering. All in all it is true, it never hurts to draw more strength & confidence from God.

        Ps: I heard that failure is written in pencil (meaning, it can be erased) 🙂

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