My first speaking engagement was in front of 1400 students. It was at a campus in New York City. The gym was steaming hot and packed to the brim with skeptical 18 year olds. I’d never spoken to more than 12 people at one time. I had sweaty palms, shaking hands, a pounding chest, and adrenaline coursing through my veins. On top of that, I completely forgot what I wanted to say. I had memorized my whole script, but where was it when I needed it?
I had almost the exact same physical reaction the first time I led a webinar, 20 years later, even though I’d been doing public speaking for years. The truth is, the first time you do ANYTHING that’s important to you, there’s a natural fear of failure. You tend to make more mistakes the first time you try something rather than the tenth time. Most people don’t like to fail. They associate it with danger. For example, losing face, losing friends or losing a job. All those physical and mental symptoms are a sign you’re “triggered”. You survival brain is being overactive. The trick is to know how to change how your brain is operating in those high pressure situations.
Whether you give presentations online or live, to one person or to many, anxiety is a very common experience. There are several reasons for this, and those reasons will be different for different people. Usually, however, the top reason is a fear of failure. Typically people will run stories in their mind from their past. They will hone in on times when they were criticized, invalidated or deemed unworthy of people’s attention.
In 25 years of public speaking and 15 years of coaching people on public speaking and researching this subject, here are what I consider to be the top 3 ways to transform a fear of failure:
- Actual Rehearsal: Practice not only to become more comfortable with your material, but to experience the range of emotions that come with giving presentations. Rehearse in front of colleagues or a coach who will give you constructive feedback. Steve Jobs reportedly became a world-class presenter through massive rehearsing. Few speakers rehearse more than once. Consider rehearsing your presentation 5x as much as you think you need. Carmine Gallo writes in his excellent book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs (McGraw-Hill 2010). “His preparation time is legendary among those closest to him.” Gallo’s book shows how Jobs began preparing weeks in advance, and typically spent two full days rehearsing, asking for feedback, making adjustments, and tightening his flow.
- Mentally Rehearsal: In Small Message, Big Impact, author Terri L. Sjodin recommends visualizing how you will feel during your presentation and afterwards. By visualizing a job well-done, you replace negative self-talk and put the whole experience in perspective–as one event among many. If you join my Presentation Prosperity Facebook Group, you’ll find a free Mental Rehearsal audio MP3 you can download for free. Listen to it right before you give a presentation and it will calm you right down and increase your confidence.
- Rewrite Limiting Subconscious Beliefs: Often fears of failure are based on past experiences. Here is a powerful way to assign a new meaning to those experiences. It’s a timeline audio MP3 process to help you Overcome a Fear of Failure. Usually, people fear failure in an area where they made a mistake in the past and suffered negative consequences. Then they are afraid to try again. Often, the way to transform that fear is to go back to that incident, with a wiser perspective, and a more forgiving heart, and free yourself up from the bonds of that fear. Try out this free MP3 audio, which is a short self hypnosis guided meditation. You can either listen lying down, or, you can actually walk the timeline as you listen. Find a place in your home where there’s room to move. People often say, that was amazing, I felt so much more free and a deeper sense of peace and confidence to move forward like never before. I wish I had this technique years ago.
What have I missed?
Here are other things the experts say that help overcome a fear of failure:
- Get enough sleep for a few days ahead
- Thoroughly check out the technology you’ll be using a day ahead
- Lightly exercise a few hours before the presentation
- Never, ever drink alcohol before your appearance
FREE SELF HYPNOSIS PROCESS: Try the timeline audio MP3 process to help you Overcome a Fear of Failure. It’s a free MP3 audio, a short self hypnosis guided meditation. You can either listen lying down, or, you can actually walk the timeline as you listen. Find a place in your home where there’s room to move. People often say, that was amazing, I felt so much more free and a deeper sense of peace and confidence to move forward like never before. I wish I had this technique years ago. Enjoy!