Just Relax

pier1This morning I woke up to see a huge spider sitting just near the bedroom door.

My heart started pounding, I was getting anxious, I wanted to run from the room screaming as spiders are not my favorite things to see at the best of times, much less first thing in the morning, but it was blocking the doorway and I had no way out.

Panic was starting to take hold. I realise I had to stop it before it got out of control.

As I reflect on this incident, these symptoms reminded me of the way some of my students have said they felt about public speaking: Heart racing, panic, unable to think logically.

What do I tell my students when they feel like this “just relax”.

Believe it or not this can be achieved.

1. Breathe – if you’re starting to panic, taking a couple of deep breathes will really help. Breathe deeply into the abdomen as this will help to relax the diaphragm and provide the brain with more oxygen allowing you to think more logically. 

2. Relax the shoulders and neck – roll the shoulders forwards and backwards, lift one shoulder up toward the ear and then the other. Carefully roll the head in a full circle and then back the other way.

3. Self talk – keep self talk positive “I will give an incredible presentation” Every time you start to think negative, give yourself a pinch on the arm to remind yourself to replace the negative thought.

4. Visualise – The mind can’t tell the difference between a real event and a visualised event. Visualise yourself giving your speech, picture yourself being the star of the show and revel in how great it feels.

Now repeat after me: “If I can see it, I can be it.”

As I stood there looking at the spider, I realised that I had blown the incident out of proportion.

The spider, while big, was tiny compared to myself. I took a couple of deep breathes, told myself the spider wasn’t going to hurt me. I visualised it sitting there looking at me worrying about what I was going to do and could it run away before I noticed it.

Once I had relaxed I was able to walk calmly out the bedroom door.

I feel I’ve now conquered my fear of spiders, so I know you can conquer your fear of public speaking.

Just Relax

Keep speaking – Carrol

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One Response to “Just Relax”

  1. David Portney, Public Speaking Training "Wizard" Says:

    Hi Carrol,

    It’s true – we make more of things than they are, we blow them out of proportion. Our minds run wild with imagined, and not real, scenarios and we freak out, without basis in reality.

    I got a call from a friend, he was depressed, said he lost a customer. I asked him what happened, and it turned out a prospect – not a customer – had not returned a phone call! He blew it all out of proportion.

    He calmed down and felt much better when he realized that he was completely out of reality when he thought he “lost a customer” and realized that there could be a dozen explanations why the prospect had not called him back, dozens of possibilities exist, but we can’t know what is real.

    Bottom line: you’re right that we need to stop, take a deep breath, and see things for what they really are and not for what we think they are.

    Best,
    David Portney

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