Fear of public speaking is stronger than the fear of death for most people in our society. This fear can have a serious negative impact on one’s career and it can fuel feelings of low self-esteem.

If you have this fear you probably already know what the symptoms are. They include pounding heart, sweating, stammering or otherwise having trouble speaking, nausea, faintness, and inability to make eye contact. Fear of ridicule and/or having your mind draw a blank in the middle of a speech are also common.

Being able to remove the fear of public speaking is important for anyone who wants to make a difference in the world. You have to be able to communicate to large groups if you desire to change things.

Negative thoughts often associated with fear of public speaking include

. The audience won’t like me
. The audience won’t think I’m good enough
. I’ll look like a fool
. My mind might go blank
. Why would anyone listen to me?
. I don’t know what to say

Reframing
Fear of public speaking revolves around the notion that it’s about you instead of it being about the content of the speech. Standing there in front of the audience it’s easy to feel self-conscious but the truth is you’re just the vehicle and not the message itself. It’s not about you it’s about the message. If you’re passionate about the message you’ll find it easier to speak about it. The more comfortable you are with the subject and the greater your conviction with regard to it, the easier it will be to tell others about it. Focusing on the importance of the message itself rather than what people might or might not think about you is the pivot point.

Begin With The End In Mind
Perhaps you’ve noticed that all we’ve discussed thus far has its existence in your mind. Until you actually get up in front of a group your anxiety and fear is really just a lot of fortune telling going on in your head. Allowing yourself to entertain negative thoughts will almost certainly cause problems during a speech. Energy flows where attention goes. If your attention is focused on screwing up in front of a bunch of people then guess what’s likely to happen.

Change Your Thoughts And You’ll Change Your Life
Getting control of what goes on in your head is key. One very powerful way to do this is to leverage the mind’s power of visualization and imagination. People often say, “Visualization doesn’t work for me I’ve tried it before”. The reason why some folks have trouble getting visualization to work is because they do it all in their heads. What I mean by that is when they visualize they get a picture in their mind much like a daydream and there’s not much else to it. When we talk about visualizing toward a goal in NLP we’re referring to something much more than just a picture in your mind.

Effective Visualization

1. Be seated in a quiet place where you can sit comfortably for between ten or fifteen minutes.
2. Begin breathing slow and deep. Inhaling so that you feel as though you are filling your stomach not just your chest with air. Once you’ve taken in all the air you can, hold your breath for a count of three and exhale slowly. As you exhale, imagine all tension, negativity, care and concerns leaving your body with the exhaled air. On the inhale, imagine that you’re inhaling pure peace and relaxation into your body. Continue in this manner for five or six repetitions.
3. Close your eyes and clear your mind of all but an awareness of the rhythm of your deep breathing. Just focus your complete attention on the act of deep breathing. When random thoughts seep in just notice them and let them float away. You will have plenty of time to deal with them later. If anything important pops up just trust that you will be able to recall it when you are finished with this brief relaxation period.
4. Now that you’re relaxed move your attention to your goal. You want to create a compelling experience in which you’re at the end of your speech. Your audience is smiling at you and you feel happy and empowered. Really put yourself in the physiological state of being there. Allow yourself to soak up the sensations and feelings of having completed your speech with the best possible outcome. What will you hear? Imagine feeling yourself shaking hands with members of the audience. Make it feel as though it has already happened. In fact, convince yourself as best you can that it has already happened and it was a huge success.

Things To Watch Out For
• Imagine only the end result not the steps leading up to the result. Trust that when you focus mentally on the outcome you want the details necessary to get you there will unfold as needed.
• Murphy’s Law. Beware of this kind of thinking as it is toxic. I like to convince my clients that Murphy’s Law exists only in so far as you allow it to exist in your own mind. Close the door on Murphy’s Law and you’ll increase your success rate dramatically.

Summary
When doubtful or fearful going into any new experience focus your attention on the end result you’re after. Of course you have to actually do the work to get you to that end. So you have to be willing to commit yourself to doing the work necessary to achieve the end result you want. The trick is in avoiding the trap of getting caught up in the obstacles to the point that they become your primary focus. Energy flows where attention goes. Choose carefully what you’re thinking while working towards your goal.

Author's Bio: 

Charles Bender MHR is a Certified Professional Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Master Neuro-Linguistic Programming Trainer and Master Reiki Practitioner. He is the Programs Director for Chrysalis Institute LLC, Emotional Wellness Center located in Moore, Oklahoma. Charles also serves as Professional Life Coach for Information Technology at the University of Oklahoma one of Computerworld’s 100 Best Places to Work in IT 2010. http://charlesdbender.com