Speaker Tips on Overcoming Fear

By Laurel Weber Snyder

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I have a very simple technique that works really well to help boost your confidence in your ability to speak. You can begin to use it right away in a variety of situations.  Here it is:

The problem: 

You’re stuck in habitual, negative, distracting behaviors.  Your fear of speaking is getting in the way of your need to express yourself well and confidently.

The solution: 

  • First, acknowledge what you want to change by putting it into words. (For example, “I want to eliminate my tendency to blank out, break into a sweat, or lose my voice when my boss asks me for an idea or opinion in a group meeting.”)
  • Next, just notice this behavior when and where it pops up.  Become very conscious of the situations that “trigger” this problem. Just practice noticing this for several days. Don’t put any pressure on yourself at this point to make any changes.
  • Soon, you may begin to become aware of the origins of this trigger and response.  Don’t judge it.  This can be helpful.
  • After a few days or a week of becoming more conscious of your triggers, begin to make very small changes in your behavior. In the example given above, you could practice consciously taking a breath and making eye contact with the questioner in order to acknowledge that you’ve heard the question. Practice pausing even if it feels uncomfortable. It is quite natural and acceptable to pause briefly before replying to someone.
  • Then, take a brief moment to formulate your answer before you speak.

Almost without exception, clients with whom I’ve used this technique report that their fear behaviors significantly improve within a week or two, and often within only a few days.  The reason?  Just giving yourself permission to just become aware of your behavior and its triggers without needing to change, is immensely freeing.  This realization by itself, or when shared with a trusted coach or even co-worker, often boosts confidence and can create positive behavioral changes and better expression.  Try it and let me know how it works for you.

Wishing you all greater confidence and freedom of expression!

Laurel Weber Snyder is a public speaking, media and job interview skills coach. Follow Laurel on Twitter @wellspokencoach or visit her website: www.wellspokencoaching.com


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