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Why you’re afraid of public speaking, and what to do about it?

Ginger Leadership Communications

Let’s face it, speaking in front of a large, or even small, group of strangers is a terrifying thing. Some people would even prefer death to a major public speaking gig. So what is it that makes us afraid of public speaking – and what can we do to overcome that fear and become confident?

In this series of blog posts we will be exploring the biological roots of our fear of public speaking and offer original and effective remedies to build confidence. We will be making the body the key focus of our attention and using concepts and theories that are very rarely seen in the world of public performance training. We call this unique approach Body Confidence.

Our roots are as human animals. And evolution actually has something pretty surprising to say about public speaking. As a species, humans evolved to be dependent on their social bonds for their survival. This means that deep within us we still unconsciously believe that any social engagement with a large audience carries with it a huge risk of rejection and, well, ultimately, death. Think about it – for over 150,000 years of our history we were strolling around the savannas in small groups of hunter-gatherers whose only chance of catching a meal (and not becoming one) was to stick together with other members of our tribe.

To maximize our chances of making it through the day and night we developed infinitely complex social bonds, reciprocities, ranks, rituals and cultures. This approach worked out very well for humans; after all there are over 7 billion of us on this planet. However, as with any highly social species, the emphasis on social engagement made us very vulnerable to how we are perceived by other people. Being seen can be, and often is, very distressing. Standing in front of the public we are putting everything at stake: our status, the state of our health, our skill to impress; and if these are not as good as we’d like them to be, they are very likely to be noticed and have an impact on our future. Make up, hipster beards, fancy hats, ties, padded shoulder jackets – these are all tools derived from this instinct to favorably manipulate our social image.

“So how does this help me?” you may ask. Next time you’re about to give a speech or have a job interview, remember that the nerves are there for a good reason and are part of your 150,000 year old human intelligence. It’s simply your body warning you that what is about to happen is very important for your survival. By learning to accept your nerves and their physiological consequences (perspiration, increased heart rate, short breath, blankness etc.) you stop struggling and open yourself up to succeeding. This acceptance is the first step to confidence in public speaking. Step two is to directly teach your nervous system how to feel safe in front of an audience – and I’ll be talking about this in my next blog post.

Click to find out more about my one day Body Confidence workshops.

More information on how to use your body for good when you speak? 

You betcha! If you’re eager to become a more inspiring speaker and keep your body in check, Ginger has a multitude of courses just right for you! From freebies to e-courses, books to workshops, jump in to Ginger. Click here for a full list of Ginger courses and resources.

And check THIS out… If you’re looking for a fun, confidence boosting, and highly effective training day, Body Confidence for Public Speaking is the place to be! Coming on April 24th 2015, change how you relate to your body and open a whole new world of confidence!

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