I’ve mentioned before that I used to have a HUGE phobia of public speaking, to the point where all of my educational and work choices up until 25 were based solely on the avoidance of it, and I when I had to do it on pain of death (or course failure) it was a horrific experience.
Today, at 35, ten years into teaching in Primary, Secondary and two years into running my own teaching wellbeing business, I find myself in a place whereby I’m planning whole-staff training and feeling… okay?!
Of course, there are some nerves brewing, but there’s also genuine excitement and some actual confidence! I know that whatever happens, I’ll handle it.
I honestly never thought I’d get to this place. Ever.
So how have I made it here?
What’s got me here is a mix of mindfulness, CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) techniques, along with a gazillion other tips I’ve picked up from self-help/research studies and so on.
But more than anything, it’s down to practise.
Once I moved from a fixed mindset to one of growth and actually started practising and rehearsing my material, along with the body language and pauses that might accompany this, I felt a massive increase in confidence.
Back in the old days, the only thing I’d rehearse was feelings of panic, negative thinking patterns and images of me failing. I wouldn’t go-over the material after I’d written it, because it made me feel anxious and reminded me that I couldn’t escape this oncoming car-crash.
It seems so ridiculously clear now; that all of my problems were ones that I was actually creating. My failure to practise was my downfall. My conscious mind was heading into full-blown fight, flight or freeze, and unable to recall the information, which in turn created more panic and a worse presentation.
When we practise, we’re telling our brains that we know what we’re talking about. We’re telling our bodies too. And we’re teaching our auto-pilot what to do and say when our ‘pilot’ is out of action.
If I’d only ever learned one thing to help be overcome fear of public speaking, it would be this – practise, practise and practise some more.
So if you’re battling stage fright, best get to it.