Some people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of flying or driving on the motorway. Fear is a survival mechanism. It motivates us to do or stop doing something, which means at times it keeps us off trouble. However, fear is a problem when it interferes with people’s goals. That’s why it is vital to learn how to control your fear and use all your energy to achieve what you have set your mind on.
You know that fear causes avoidance and avoidance causes more fear. Thus, by staying away from what we are afraid of we won’t be able to overcome fear. The only reasonable approach to this disabling state is taking the bull by the horns and fighting against our weaknesses.
A pounding heart, trembling hands, butterflies in your stomach and your legs turning to jelly are a few of the most common human reactions in exceedingly stressful situations; a racing voice and cluttered mind, even tension in the shoulder and neck area may be added to the list for the public speaker in particular. Such reactions are unhealthy and in most cases bring about undesired results. It is very important to learn how to recognize your body’s reaction to stress and anxiety and of course how to overcome your fears and gain self-confidence.
For public speaking, there are several exercises meant to help you get rid of the feeling of panic and the physical sensations it comes with. Anxiety tightens the muscles in your chest and throat. A restricted airway will not allow the necessary quantity of oxygen into your lungs and brain so deep breathing will expand the throat and chest, promoting relaxation. A couple of sighs before the speech are also known to do wonders.
Yet, a few breathing exercises before a public speaking event are not enough. We were born with the ability to breath from the abdomen, but later in life our breathing has become shallow; it is much easier to breathe like that and we think our lungs get enough air anyway. This is not true. Breathing from your stomach does not send the right quantity of air into your lungs and undoubtedly can’t reduce anxiety either. Learn to deep-breathe again and you will feel a lot better.
Specialists claim that your whole body needs some exercise for you to relax. Progressive muscle relaxation therapy is based on a series of exercises in which certain groups of muscles are tensed for about ten seconds and relaxed again for another ten seconds. Each group is tensed and relaxed twice before you move on to the next. Therapists will show you the best exercises for each muscle group and, though it is not easy, with some practice you will learn how to bring the feeling of total relaxation to your body.
Actors, for example, are in the habit of alternatively shaking their legs before the performance. Stand on one leg and shake the other, then switch legs. Next, shake your hands; hold them above your head and bring them back down. Finally, start chewing in an exaggerated way to warm up your face muscles. Shoulders and neck rolls are very effective too as they prevent the tension that might later affect the muscles of your neck and shoulders.