Did you know the fear of speaking in public is one of the greatest fears we have?
Whatever happened to sabre-tooth tigers and dinosaurs, eh? Oh yes, they’re extinct, I’ll give you that. Well, Brexit then.
But the primal response we experience when we feel under threat – whether we inch out onto a stage and into the spotlight, or spot a tyrannosaurus rex looming up behind the 91 bus – is exactly the same.
Fight or flight – fear is there, big and large, prompting the ‘it’s super scary’ physical response. Sweating, dry mouth, squeaky voice, the sudden desire to projectile vomit…
So why, (oh why oh why) have I signed up for a Ted Talk style event ?(Thursday 7 March 2019 at the Bavard Bar, Printers Playhouse, Grove Road, Eastbourne) See; look at me, telling you where it’s happening – do I have an ego death wish? (Well, yes, actually… but that’s a blog for another time).
But I’ll be there, with bells and whistles (not literally`) partly because I enjoy pushing my own buttons and partly because a self-hypnosis session on discovering my purpose brought up speaking in public.
And in trance it felt so natural, so exhilarating and so what I should be doing. I watched myself move about the stage, I could see the audience listening, I could feel the tension in the air – the prickling electricity of a powerful moment shared.
Given that I haven’t spoken in public since I was at school (unless you include teaching yoga and I don’t, that’s different. You’re doing something and so is your ‘audience’) I was shocked. Where had this come from? What far corner of my subconscious thought this was a good idea?
Sometimes the subconscious takes us by the surprise though and I felt compelled to discover whether the experience actual is anything like the trance version.
But obviously I’m not going to leave that first experience to chance, that would be foolish – and completely disloyal to my inner swot who loves to study.
I didn’t do girl guides (rebellious, even as a kid) but I love that motto ‘be prepared’. For the past few weeks I have been working on my presentation skills with motivational speaker and all round queen, Lisa Nichols. Her Speak and Inspire course is amazing; a truly transformative experience because it encourages you to watch and support each others’ efforts through Facebook lives, in a closed group community. Sound confusing? It is a bit, but my goodness, what a community. In there you’ll find friends, made friends, see lovely people bare their souls, hear stories that inspire, touch the heart but mostly help you understand how you’re not alone.
Everyone struggles. School bullies, work bullies, domestic bullies have been kicking fragile souls all around the world forever, it seems. We think we’re so alone, don’t we. That our ‘shame’ is isolating and excruciating, but it’s such a shared pain, it truly is. There are some awful people out there. I’ve also heard stories of divorce, broken careers and the triumphs and insights that came out of the adversity.
When we’re open and honest with each other, when we take down the walls, let go the mask and hold space for each other, magic happens. You get fresh perspective. It’s extraordinary. And Lisa shares amazing self-transforming practices that I’ll be sharing with my clients. That woman knows how to find self love and build its fire.
I’ve nearly finished this course, but I’ll hold close to me many of those people I’ve met. From all corners of the world. All cultures. All ages. Whatever you may imagine, what makes us the same is so much greater than our differences.
If you have advice for speaking to an audience, please share. What are your top tips? How do you like to create dialogue rather than a monologue?