Archive for the ‘fear’ Category

Just Relax

February 20, 2009

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

Need a life buoy for job interviews?

January 31, 2009



Yesterday I read an interesting article on the Toastmaster website. See link below.

It was talking about how Toastmasters and public speaking skills had helped people with being more confident when it came to job interviews.

With so many people around the world loosing their jobs and perhaps having to attend an interview for the first time in 10 or 20 years, I truly believe that anything you can use to your advantage to help you find a new job in the shortest possible time, is well worth investing in.

Being able to answer questions during an interview can sometime make or break whether you get the job or not. Many questions are structured around the “tell us a time when,” where you have to let the interviewer know when you were in a similar situation and how you handled it.

Imagine if you had your own secret life buoy, skills that would help you with the interview and handle those questions.

If you can enter the interview with confidence, speak easily, make good eye contact and provide an answer with a beginning, middle and end you will be well on your way to finding a new job.

Public speaking can help in so many ways, even more so during these hard economic times, when how you present in an interview is vitally important.

Keep speaking – Carrol

A lesson from Barack Obama

January 24, 2009


Many of you would have watched as Barack Obama was sworn in as the President of the United States this week.

Many of you would have seen this eloquent man, who has given numerous speeches in the past, stumble and forget the words presented to him. But did you notice how he handled the situation?

Barack stood there confident and poised and waited for his line to be presented to him again.

Even the most confident of speakers can have a moment or two where their mind goes blank. How you deal with this when it happens will make all the difference.

The secret is to be confident in your self.

If you need to look at your notes then go ahead, you may also want to pause slightly longer than normal to gather your thoughts together. (see last weeks blog on pausing). Think about what you’ve been talking about and what you’d like to say next, have a sip of water if you need to extend the time slightly and then continue on.  

Watching other speakers, such as Obama, can help with those vital lessons on how to become a better speaker.

Keep speaking – Carrol

That sense of achievement

October 28, 2008

At some stage in your life you might have to give a presentation or speech. For many people the thought of speaking in public can be very intimidating. But for those who push through the fear and speak in front of a group, the sense of achievement is great.




Tips for pushing through your fear of speaking:


  1. Understand that most people feel a little nervous about public speaking
  2. Concentrate on the speech, not the fear.
  3. Quitting is not an option, make the decision to move forward not backwards


At the end of your presentation you’ll feel this buzz, this huge sense of accomplishment. You’ll know that you’ve conquered your fear, stomped on something that previously held you back.


Stand tall and acknowledge what you’ve done.


You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Keep speaking – Carrol

Improve from the inside by asking outside

September 5, 2008
  •  After you’ve given a presentation or workshop do you ask for feedback?

Many people try to avoid feedback because of fear – “what if they didn’t like my presentation”.

But isn’t it better to know that people didn’t like your presentation so that you can improve on it?

I love feedback and constantly ask for feedback whether I’ve given a 10 minute presentation or a 60 minute workshop. Whenever I pick up the feedback forms the first place I look at is, “what could have been improved” or “what was not covered that you think should have been covered”

Feedback allows me to gauge what is or isn’t working from the audiences perspective.

When asking for feedback, as for what you did well and what you could have been improved on. You may want to focus on a few specific areas to begin with:

  • * body language
  • * vocal variety
  • * eye contact

Once you’ve worked on the basics, you can then look at other areas such as:

  • * content suitability for your audience
  • * language (words) used
  • * amount of content

Start off by asking a valued friend or colleague for feedback.

Remember that feedback is not a criticism, it emphasis your strong points and points out areas for improvement.

Good feedback from the outside is an excellent opportunity to improve from the inside.

Keep speaking – Carrol

Facing your fear

June 17, 2008

Today I read a great post from The Henderson Group on “Public Speaking and the Value of freaking out” so thought I would share it with you.  Everyone has a “freak out point” it’s part of growing and learning and it should be something that we embrace and enjoy because it means that you are experiencing something new.

As we stretch ourselves, we stretch our comfort zone.

Hope you enjoy this article as much as I did.

Keep Speaking – Carrol

The matador who wasn’t nervous

May 19, 2008
I found this great tip on Anne Millers website: and wanted to share it with you.

Presenting – No one ever died of a presentation. Do you know the story of the matador who was killed by the bull on the only day he wasn’t nervous?

Nervousness is the rush of adrenalin. Just as that adrenalin rush helps you play better in sports, it helps you as well in the presentation. Welcome it. Let it work for you.

Keep speaking – Carrol



What to do when your mind goes blank

April 6, 2008

I had a question recently about what to do when your mind goes blank and you can’t remember what you were going to say next. So I thought I would write a couple of suggestions to help you overcome this if it happens to you.

  1. Remember that you are in control. The audience doesn’t know what you are going to say next and so won’t know that your mind has gone blank unless you tell them. This is where the pause can be a very useful tool, pause for a moment, take a breath think about what you have just been talking about and usually what you were going to say next will come back to you. When you are taking a pause it may seem like a lifetime to you, but for your audience it will just seem like a normal break in your presentation.
  2. Keep your notes handy just in case you need to refer to them. Have a quick look, find where you are up to and then move on. Don’t continue to hold onto your notes as this can make you look nervous.
  3. If you don’t have your notes with you and you can’t remember your next point but do remember another point, then continue on with the one that you can remember. Once you continue talking, chances are that you will remember the point you forgot and can say “Oh, I forgot to mention……………”
  4. One of the most common things speakers do, is to have a drink of water. Again it looks like you are taking a legitimate break. Hold up your hand in the stop gesture and take a drink, this will give you time to think about what you were going to say next.
  5. There is nothing wrong with being honest and saying “Oops I forgot what I was talking about” This will make you appear human and that you make mistakes just like your audience members, although you don’t want to say this too often as it will make you look unprepared.

Having a strategy in place will give you the time you need to collect your thoughts and then you will be able to continue on.

Hope this helps



March 20, 2008

If I asked you what glossophobia is, would you be able to tell me?

I can tell you that it’s not the fear of wearing lip gloss but the fear of speaking in public.

75% of  people claim that they would rather die than speak in public. I think if I gave people the option of “the electric chair” or “the microphone”, most people would choose the microphone.

So why do we have this fear?

Most of the time the fear is not about speaking but about the judgements from others.

  • What if I make a fool of myself?
  • What if I forget what I am talking about?
  • What if everyone can see how nervous I am?
  • What if things go wrong?

The best way to overcome your fear is to write down all of your concerns and then write down what is the worst possible outcome.

So for example: if you wrote down – what if I forget what I am going to say – the worst thing that could happen is that you would have to refer to your notes, find your place and then you could continue with your speech.

Once you have written down your concerns and the worst possible outcomes, you’ll see that things aren’t as bad as you first thought. Sometimes we need to push our own personal boundaries and stretch ourselves in new and interesting directions.

As Susan Jeffers wrote “feel the fear and do it anyway”