Speaking in front of a group of people is considered to be the number one fear of the average person. This is quite amazing; especially as number two is death! As Jerry Seinfield once said, that means to the average person if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the coffin than doing the eulogy!

The fear of public speaking will prevent you from achieving your true potential as a business leader.

But imagine if you were comfortable presenting in public and took every opportunity presented. What could this do for you and your business?

I am a little odd as I have developed a love for public speaking and performing! But like everyone else I have been crippled by nerves in the past. Now thankfully it is more of an excited buzz (that is what I choose to tell myself anyway!).

The reason we feel so fearful is that we have part of our brain that deals with our protection and it does not understand the difference between something that is truly life threatening and something that is creating the fear, fight or flight response for other reasons.

We have existed on the planet for well over 100,000 years and for the most part human experience has been based around hunting, protection and other basic urges and needs. There is part of our mind that is still attuned to this and when we stand up in front of a group of people it fears we are in mortal danger!

So a big part of confidence building is around soothing and calming this part of our brain. So we firstly need to get a sense of perspective. Our lives do not depend on one presentation. The audience do not wish us harm, in fact they wish us well. So we need to intercept and change our internal dialogue to be a more helpful one. This also means stopping any internal or external comments such as “I can’t present”, “I am going to bore people”, “I am really nervous” etc.

As well as adapting our internal and external dialogue, an important way to gain confidence is to relive past experiences when things have gone well. This relates to a technique (from Neuro Linguistic Programming) called anchoring. I use a process called “The Circle of Excellence” for myself and my clients and this is a brilliant way of bringing memories back to help you in a new situation.

My final piece of advice for this blog is to do some work beforehand on visualisation. Your unconscious mind does not know the difference between real events and imagined ones. So for a few days before, spend time visualising what your event would be like if it went really well! You can give yourself a bank of confidence building experiences, just by lying in your bed last thing before going to sleep!

To find out more about our presentation skills programmes with the Chamber of Commerce please click here.