Overcoming My Fear of Public Speaking

lectureWhat is your most gut-wrenching memory that created untold nervousness and anxiety?  How did you respond?

For me, I guess that memory would be giving a talk to a weight loss class after I was first hired as a fitness tech.  At the time, we had a weight loss class called FitWeigh, and at the beginning an exercise physiologist or a fitness tech was asked to teach participants about basic exercise prescription.

Well, even though I had given several presentations in graduate school, I still didn’t have a sure-fire way of calming myself before I gave a talk.

But at that moment, I felt it was time.  I knew that this would be the beginning of more talks to come, so I needed to find a solution ASAP…

What worked for me?

I really didn’t have a plan until right before the class started.  I noticed a few things, however.  For instance, my breathing increased and became shallow.  This was causing me to become more tense, agitated, nervous, and anxious.

At that moment, I decided that whatever it takes, I would take deep, slow breaths.  And it worked.  Every time I started breathing more shallow and getting nervous, I would go back to deep breathing.

Self-awareness is king.

Also, I reminded myself (a few times) that I had a Master’s Degree and am very knowledgeable, and there was no reason to be nervous.  I convinced myself.

During the talk, I spoke calmly, maintaining a consistent tone of voice.  And if I started getting nervous again, I would make sure I was breathing while I was talking.

Apparently, I did a great job.  The comments I received were confirmation that I was cool, calm, and collective.  So, now when I teach education classes I practice deep breathing and make sure I am fully prepared to talk on the subject of choice.

Another thing I’ve learned over time is that I am much more comfortable in an interactive setting, and participants tend to learn better and enjoy the experience.

What’s Next?

The biggest group I’ve talked to so far was a group of 35.  So, my next challenge is to talk to a group of 50.

If you haven’t already, do you dare challenge yourself to talk in front of a group?

Until next time,

Pamela Brown



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