Public Speaking: Do we need to feel nerves?
Public Speaking, shyness and social phobia is one of my favourite areas of working, why? Simply because I used to have this fear myself. One of my first public performances was as a five year old child in the school play. I was petrified and at the same time loved the experience, how weird is that? In fact at the age of five I decided that when I grew up I wanted to go into show business. (At the age of twenty one, I did) However it was obvious even from that moment that I had a huge fear of being in the public eye, so a few hurdles to overcome.
Typically I had all the symptoms of shyness, the inability to answer questions in the classroom even when I knew the answer. In fact, if the teacher asked a question the answer would pop into my head, I would think about answering the questioning and then run all the different possible scenarios of what might happen if I did put my hand up, typically I would think, “what if my answer is wrong?”I would then connect with the feelings of embarrassment and then decide “it isn’t worth it”. Typically some other kid would put their hand up, give the exactly the same answer as I had come up with.
Interestingly enough even though I thought about myself as shy I also had a part of me that wasn’t shy at all. At the age of twenty one I made my first ventures into show business, did live TV etc. However during all of that time one thing eluded me; I still didn’t feel confident speaking as myself in public and still felt self-conscious if I did.
Feeling self-conscious affects a person in several different ways, for one thing you lose the ability to be trully spontaneous. You are too busy running mental scenarios and thinking about what others might be thinking. You might also be going as far as to feeling as if you are watching yourself rather than just being in the moment.
The interesting point is what happens when you clear this issue. Well for one thing, you just feel “in the moment”, rather than find yourself running possible scenarios of disaster through your mind. You are truly listening to what is occurring around you and reacting to it appropriately. And if you are sensitive to energies, there is a total different energy that goes with feeling relaxed and confident.
Now to the point of this blog, do we really need to experience nerves to do a good presentation? My answer would be NO. Why would that be, everyone says you need some nerves? Well I have experienced nerves and been almost incapacitated by it. Even lesser degree of nerves can still take away from your presentation as it begins to cut you off from your memory and you lose your ability to tract your presentation (put your talk into a logical sequence). Yes some people do overcome their nerves the further into the presentation they get, but still is it necessary?
Giving a presentation, you do however need to LIFT YOUR ENERGY before you go on and talk. This energy feels totally different to nervous energy. I know this from first hand knowledge because simply before giving a talk to the business community I cleared an aspect of my fear, and found that I just felt so laid back about the talk that I couldn’t be bothered preparing it. I used some interesting techniques to lift my energy and get it “out there“. I went on and the presentation went really well without my needing to refer to notes at all. I did the talk totally from memory. The information just flowed into my mind.