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All we have to fear is fear itself

by Dan Bond on 20th February, 2013

It is part of the human condition to fear speaking in public and it is often quoted that at a funeral people would rather be in the box than giving the eulogy. This may be overstating it a bit but fear of speaking is a problem.

When I was a lad I met a friend of the family who had survived three military landings from the sea, the last being D Day. In my naivety I asked him ‘weren’t you scared?’ To which he replied ‘I was absolutely terrified, but I had a job to do and I made that job fill my head, my heart and my hands’

Frequently I find presentation coaching clients are filling their heads with negative affirmations that endorse feelings of fear and inadequacy.  What they should be focussing on is their conviction and  what needs to be said and done.  I worked with a senior exec in a very large telecoms company who admitted to using an internal chant of ‘Don’t be crap, don’t be C….etc’ before speaking …..  but he was.  Remember, only positively stated affirmations are the ones that work.

However, just as you get up an absolute focus on the first thing you’re going to say, word for word, can be used as a snowplough to push the fear to one side. Your memory aid does not just have to be the words themselves it can be a place, photo, picture or an image you have constructed in your head specifically to recall the content.

Added to this a focus on your physical self, breathing and posture can also be used to push the fear to one side. Fear is a good thing, it is part of our survival toolkit and the adrenaline generated sharpens our thinking and our reaction times.  So feel it and control it by filling your head your heart and your hands with the job that needs to be done.

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