Have you ever been waiting for your turn to speak at a meeting?
And you feel your palms start to sweat, your hands start to shake, and your tummy gets tight. It all starts before you even open your mouth? Look anxiety is real and it can absolutely ruin your life. So, if you are someone that suffers from anxiety, please keep watching, because this is for you.
Anxiety can come in many forms…
☑️ Social anxiety
☑️ Anxiety around speaking up for yourself
☑️ And, of course, anxiety around public speaking.
All these things can make life so hard to handle. I get it, I used to be like that too.
So, in this blog, I’m going to share with you the 3 main things that worked for me to help me lose my anxiety for good!
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FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Today, we are talking about today is anxiety in life and also when public speaking.
Before we jump into the steps to help you overcome this, I want you to know what performance anxiety is, which is the same as a fear of public speaking. It is one of the most common phobias in the world. It’s so common in fact that many people choose jobs that don’t require them to do any presentations of any kind just to avoid the potential stress.
But here’s the thing, when you avoid something that you’re afraid of, it actually just makes it worse.
So, let’s get this fixed, shall we?
STEP 1: REFRAME YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF NERVES
This is the first step that I take with all my students because it’s the most important one. When our bodies go into fight or flight, it’s because the Amygdala (the warning system in our brain) has detected something that could be potentially life threatening. It kicks into full gear to protect us from injury, death or worse…. Humiliation.
What is imperative to remember is this: the Amygdala has been saving our lives for thousands of years and it’s the reason we are standing here right now, living and breathing. So, we really need to be grateful that our body is constantly on the look out to keep us from danger.
But here’s the thing: The DANGER that we are currently experiencing may only be PERCEIVED danger, not actual danger. This is because of ONE or MORE negative experiences we have had in the past. For example, maybe you were confident and happy as a child in elementary school but then on your first day of High School, in a new country or a new class, you were asked to stand up and read out loud to the whole class. Then you freaked out and you messed up. Maybe all your fellow classmates started sniggering or making fun of you. Now, that negative experience will be locked in and the Amygdala will now kick into high gear when ANYTHING even remotely similar to that situation comes up again. What you need to keep in mind here is: IT IS PROTECTING YOU FROM HARM. So, instead of allowing it to cripple you and STOP you, you need to instead understand the process and THANK IT for trying to SAVE YOU.
Now… we can move forward to step 2.
STEP 2: MENTAL REHEARSAL & ACTUAL REHEARSAL
Scientific studies have shown us over and over again that the brain cannot differentiate between something that ACTUALLY happens and something that is IMAGINED OR VISUALISED. Performance Scientists have known this for a long time, and that is why the BEST athletes in the world all have performance coaches teaching them how to visualize that hole in one or that winning goal kick in the last 10 seconds of the game. The more you actively and consciously visualize the outcome that you want, the more likely you will achieve it.
Now this is how I do it as a performer and speaker. When I first learned this technique years ago, I had the same problem as you – overwhelming anxiety – even though I was singing full time for a living. It was really sucking the joy out of every performance for me. So, I studied NLP to help me get over it. When I was writing this very show you see me performing here, I sat down with my brand-new script in front of me and mentally rehearsed the entire show every single day… twice per day.
Now, I had already learned all the songs and memorized all the stories I was going to tell. I just had to work on getting the OUTCOME I WANTED. My goal was a happy faced audience, giving me a standing ovation at the end. To reward myself for giving a great show (during my visual rehearsal), I would waltz over to the bar in my mind and order a French Martini to relax and unwind after the show.
I mentally rehearsed every part of my show right up to me going to the bar and drinking that martini. I did it every single day, twice a day for 7 days. What do you think happened at the REAL SHOW a week later? Was I nervous? A little, but EVERYTHING I had mentally & physically rehearsed went exceedingly well. The audience DID smile, they DID give me a standing ovation and I DID get my French martini reward! In fact, it still gives me goosebumps just thinking about it and how exciting it was to see that it all played out. It truly changed my life.
So, do yourself a favor and start this practice TODAY!
STEP 3: CHANGE YOUR WORDS
When we say, or even think over and over again things like: “OMG! I am so anxious… I am so nervous… I could NEVER do that… I could never speak in front of a big crowd…I am too nervous to speak in front of a big crowd… ” When we do that, we are locking in and learning those bad behaviors even more. You are building neural networks in your brain that will keep you stuck in exactly the same place…Fearful, anxious and nervous. All because of the thoughts you are thinking and the words you are speaking.
When I was teaching some young performers many years ago, a few of the kids were complaining to me how nervous they were about singing at the big Christmas carol event coming up, where we were booked to perform in front of 20,000 people! Some of them were really freaking out! So, we all sat down and discussed something that quite surprised them. I asked them: “What do you feel in your body when you are standing in line at the Carnival waiting for your turn on the Roller Coaster at Movie World?” They all said the same thing: “EXCITED!”
So I said, “Ok, describe to me what excited feels like?” They said “Butterflies in the tummy”, “shaking with excitement”, “adrenaline pumping”, “lots of energy running through my body”. “AH…” I said, “that’s really interesting. Now tell me what it feels like when you are nervous and waiting to sing backstage”. They said: “Butterflies in the tummy”, “shaking”, “lots of energy”. “Wow! Yep, the very same things. Isn’t that interesting?” Then a bright young 7-year-old piped up and shouted “OMG! We are not nervous at all… we are NERVOUS-CITED!!!! And that totally changed the game for all of them.
From that day forward, we used the word NERVOUS-CITED to describe our feelings instead of saying nervous.
ONE LAST BONUS TIP
When you are speaking or singing in front of an audience, make sure that when you make a mistake, KEEP GOING. Don’t apologize, don’t stop, just take a breath and KEEP GOING. Every famous singer and speaker on the planet has been through this. Even Ronan Keating, whom I worked with on the Channel 7 Show All Together now, told me during our rehearsals, that he once completely forgot the words to one of his most famous songs. It just flew completely out of his head when he was standing on stage and singing to hundreds and thousands of people. He panicked and just sang the verse again and kept going. All of those people were watching him and none of them cared. None of them even noticed! His mother was in the audience that night, and even SHE didn’t notice! So, whatever happens… KEEP GOING! It’s one of the best tips you will ever hear!
When you pay attention to the words you speak, your brain and behavior will start to change too.
Do not forget: Speak up. Speak out. Be ready to be heard because remember: YOUR VOICE MATTERS.