Had a Bad Public Speaking Experience? 3 Steps for Healing and Moving On
Every time that Sabrina even thinks about public speaking, she breaks out into a cold sweat, she starts to shake and her skin goes blotchy. It’s starting to becoming a problem for her. She wants to be able to speak to groups to build her career and business, but even the thought of talking to three people at the same time sends her into a tail-spin.
One day she had to get up and stand in front of three colleagues and give a short ten-minute presentation on a subject she knew like the back of her hand. It took her forever to start; she talked so fast she got through it in less than five minutes, couldn’t answer any questions afterwards and threw up after it was all done.
What can she do? If she doesn’t figure out why she has this knee-jerk reaction to public speaking soon, it may affect her career success badly. She knows that the way to success is to overcome it, but she can’t even figure out why it is happening!
Sabrina’s Not The Only One
Most people have a fear of speaking in public in one form or another, and it’s partly due to our survival brain going into overdrive. It’s only the last 70 years or so where a good majority of people had easy access to food and shelter. Before that, most generations of people weren’t even sure if they were going to eat that day! Everything in life was about having food, clothing and proper shelter to stay alive.
Our brains have been wired since the dawn of time to survive, and that meant being constantly aware of all the negative things that could happen and REMEMBER THEM. And that is where our reaction to public speaking comes in.
We all have a need to feel accepted and part of a group of people who will support us. We need it to survive! Wouldn’t you agree? But…
There are sneaky, dirty tricks that the school system uses to torture poor children and make them afraid, and they are called speeches and school plays. Every other subject on the face of the earth, they educate you in, from arithmetic to zoology. But they expect us to able to prepare a speech or memorize lines for a school play and deliver it flawlessly in front of a group of other children and adults waiting for us to screw up with no training whatsoever!
And when we mess up, and most of us do, it leaves a very, very, very bad memory in our mind. Our survival brain kicks in and tells us that public speaking is dangerous and will cause people to abandon you because you are just not good or strong enough. Remember that saying that only the strong survive!
I know that it is crazy. You are not going to die just because you gave a bad speech at school or froze up trying to act your three little lines for the school play. We rationally know it. So anytime that you have to present, your survival brain kicks in and will do whatever it takes not to have a repeat of that childhood experience and guess what? You end up having a bad experience which reinforces the conclusion that you came to as a child. You are no good at public speaking, and you need to stay away from it…period.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, and the first step you take towards freedom is to recognize that. Realize that you were put into a situation that you shouldn’t have been, at an age where you weren’t emotionally prepared to deal with the consequences of it, and there was no training or support afterwards to help you process it properly.
You Are An Adult Now
As an adult, you can handle public speaking. As an adult, you are more than capable of learning new skills and implementing them. As an adult, you know who you are and have a the ability to forgive yourself for mistakes! LOL. As an adult, you can deal with things in a rational manner and recognize bad situations for what they are. Not life defining moments, but a few minutes in a lifetime of mostly good things.
Now before we go into the rest of the steps, there is one more area I want to cover. Maybe you didn’t have bad experiences in school; maybe your public speaking was ok or even good but other things can affect your ability to get up in front of a group of people.
How we were taught to perceive ourselves is a big one. Maybe people told you that you were too shy, or that you aren’t smart enough. Maybe every time you tried to speak to a group, people ignored you, and you though that nobody wants to listen to you. These are all things that get down into your subconscious and program you to be unsuccessful in that area.
We all have mental programming from the past, some of it good and some of it bad. Now is the time to get rid of the bad stuff so that you can move forward to become the public speaker you were meant to be. So whether it’s your survival brain acting up or bad subconscious programming, here are the steps you can take to overcome it and start having confidence in speaking.
Before I became the professional public speaker I am today; I was a shy, quiet, introverted person who hated public speaking. At one point, I had to get up in front of a small group of people for my job in a career centre and give a presentation. Let’s just say that I sweated profusely, and my hands shook so bad that I could barely hold the paper. It did not turn out well.
The wonderful thing was that instead of getting fired, my boss took me aside and gave me these great tips.
STEP #1 – Journal Every Day
Write Down Everything That Worked
Record things that you did well that day, especially anything that had to do with speaking. It is important to be constantly looking at the good in you.
Write Down An Area Where You Can Improve
Now the point of this is not to make a list of how bad you are. You want to write down one thing that you can work on the next day. One of the things I struggled with was avoiding eye contact with my audience. That was one area I worked on improving.
Write Down Areas of Strength & Places You Saw Improvement
Every time I spoke after that, my boss videoed it and we would watch it together. We would both write down where I was getting better and where I could improve. She had a much longer list of where I was getting better, and that helped me a lot.
As I did this, I started to believe in myself more and then my speaking improved. It was a positive self-fulfilling prophecy.
Step 2 – Program Your Brain for Success
To program your brain for success right before you go to speak. Find a calm place, and remember a time that you gave a presentation well. It doesn’t have to be to a group, but could be 1-to-1. Just make sure it was a good experience, or mainly a good experience. Use your imagination and go back into that memory. What did you see, hear and feel that made you feel good about the situation? Relive that moment. The subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between a real or imagined situation. It can be like loading the software for success to be successful again.
Step 3 – Have Compassion
If someone got up to speak and maybe they didn’t do so good, you would have compassion for them, right? You would recognize that they did the best they could, and they are just learning. So, try that with yourself.
No one is born an amazing speaker. Even those with natural talents have to practice to get excellent. Cut yourself some slack and remember that this is a learning process. Look for areas where you did well. What improved since last time? By doing this, you reinforce the positive and continue to make it stronger in your life.
You can become the speaker you want to be. It is possible. Don’t give up on your dreams. Take the action steps you need to improve and reward yourself for your persistence. You will never regret it.
Try The Memory Imprint Journal for FREE (normally sold for $37).Just click HERE. It will help you:
- build up a positive self image when it comes public speaking
- let go of bad memories
- improve your confidence