Val Erickson – Speak like a Pro

3 Effective Ways to Control your Fear

Imagine you’re hiking a trail in the forest. The sun is shining, the wind is calm, the birds are tweeting in the trees. Life is good, you feel good, you might even be humming a song. Suddenly, you hear a loud crack from deep inside the forest. What goes through your mind?

That happened to my husband and me. We were 12 km into a 27 km trek into a high-altitude mountain lodge in the Rocky Mountains. We were on a narrow path with trees and bushes all around. Suddenly, a loud crack stopped our chatter. Birds burst up from their perches and flew away. We froze mid-step. My heartbeat quickened, my ears strained to the slightest noise. Gary grabbed my arm and pushed me behind him. I scanned the woods for movement.

‘Too loud to be a cougar or deer’ I thought. ‘ Grizzly’ Another crunch, leaves rustling, “what should we do?” I whispered, “let’s back away”. We don’t know what it is yet. Stay where you are” he said.

An even louder crunch followed by the sound of breaking branches and leaves filled the air. I was terrified. My mouth went dry. I wanted to flee but didn’t know which way to go. Suddenly, a seventy-foot tall lodgepole pine crashed down landing feet from where we stood. We were lucky that day. Lucky we didn’t get squashed by the massive tree and lucky that we were in the right place at the right time to witness nature doin’ what nature does. After taking a few minutes to reconnect our minds with our bodies, we shook off the shock and carried on.

I got to thinking of how my body responded to fear and realized that I had felt that kind of paralyzing fear before. In public speaking. George Jessel says, our minds begin working the moment we are born and never quits until we are asked to speak in public.

The fear I felt standing in front of a crowd readying to speak was the same feeling I had when I assumed a massive grizzly bear was ready to crash through the forest and confront us.

The effects are the same. Rapid pulse, dry mouth, feet like lead, heavy feeling in the chest, shaky legs, it’s all the same, physiologically speaking.

Let’s apply this to public speaking. You’re prepared and practiced and ready for your big presentation, XX

What happens to your body? Your brain floods your body with adrenaline and chemicals to prepare you for a flight-or-fight response except that there is no physical threat. There is no need for you to run and escape harm and you’re left paralyzed with fear. chest pain, trembling hands, stomach pain. We might even start thinking we are having a panic attack or worse, a heart attack. This is called internal noise and it increases the fear symptoms and makes them worse.

Fear is normal. Fear is expected and even the most accomplished speakers get stage fright.

The amazing news is that we can fix this. Below are three ways to control our fears.

One. Move

Two. Breathe Deeply

Three. Tense and relax your muscles

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