7 tips to reduce the fear of public speaking
2 min read. Public speaking comes with the territory of being a meditation teacher. This article presents 7 helpful tips to help you deal with any fears that might come up when you are needing to guide live meditations or deliver a presentation.
The fear of public speaking (glossophobia) is believed to affect up to 75% of the population! So many of us worry about being negatively judged or harshly evaluated by others. Most people have experienced the paralysing effect of this fear. It invades our body, causes our brains to freeze, contracts our throats and sends our heart rate soaring. Even the idea of public speaking can elicit an incredibly strong stress response.
It takes a lot of courage to step up and confront this fear. Public speaking is something that all of our students have to face as they venture off into the world with their new qualification. I recently had a powerful group session with the ACMM Diploma students about the different ways we can approach our public speaking fears. I thought it might be really useful to share some of this collectively gathered wisdom and experience with all of you.
Tips for public speaking
Maintain your current meditation practice and experiment with methods that make you feel calm and provide a lasting experience of calm such as relaxation and mindfulness of the body. Visualizing a successful event (start at least a week beforehand) in your regular practice can set positive foundations in your mind. When you are visualizing, start by getting grounded and relaxing the body thoroughly. Then, move into the visualization, keeping a connection with the positive feelings you want to experience. These might include joy, satisfaction, excitement, competency, and confidence. Bask in these feelings and visuals for a time before grounding again to close.
#2 Be Organised
Arrive at the venue or start preparing your space well ahead of time so that you are not rushing to prepare. It may mean paying a little extra money for the space, but you will feel much calmer in the end so it will be worth it. A reasonable amount of time is around half an hour beforehand. However, if you are running a full-day workshop, this might be longer.
#3 Get Grounded
Use grounding practices to stay well-grounded. This balances the sometimes overwhelming inner sensations of butterflies and sicky stomach. This means becoming aware of your visual surroundings, sounds, tastes, feet on the ground and sensation of clothing on your body, smells etc. For stubborn sensations, take your focus to or create stronger outer sensations that match the intensity of your inner sensations. You can do this by pressing your feet against the floor, clutching the arms of a chair tightly or creating another kind of strong sensation on your skin. Movement is also an excellent way to shake off nerves, so move your body vigorously or dance.
Be kind to yourself. Befriend your feelings of fear and nervousness by holding them with compassion and remembering we are all human. Normalise your feelings by reminding yourself that it’s natural to feel nervous when you’re trying something new that is out of your comfort zone. Reframe your nervousness as excitement and anticipation of an exciting event. Place your hand on your heart and give yourself some encouraging and caring words (whatever you need to hear most right now).
#5 Break the ice!
Start your presentation or session with a joke. Laughter helps you and your group break through the nerves, connect and relax.
#6 Practice, Practice, Practice
Make sure that you are thoroughly prepared for the session or event. Go over your meditation or presentation many times. This will go a long way to easing your mind. The more experience you gather at this kind of speaking, the easier it will get. Say yes to any invitations you might get to deliver a meditation or presentation.
Drop into your heart space. Connect to the care and love you have for the people that have come to your group. Cultivate a feeling of gratitude towards those who have come to hear you speak. They value what you have to share. Feel these feelings consciously and you will move into a, grateful, compassionate and connected state of consciousness. In my experience, this helps to melt away nerves.
You might consider watching a few TED talks on public speaking! There are so many! And, they help in understanding the psychology behind the fear of public speaking. When we know more about a topic, we have more confidence to face it.
Thank you to my wonderful Diploma supervision group for these helpful suggestions and I hope they help you get out there and shine!
If teaching meditation is something you would like to explore further, consider reading through our Definitive Guide to Becoming a Mediation Teacher