Does terror of speaking in front of crowds threaten to paralyze your writing career?
Imagine a large stadium filled to capacity. The announcer introduces the main speaker. The audience claps and cheers. Adrenaline pulses in a flood through your veins. You approach the podium in slow-motion, while your legs beg to run away as fast as they can.
You arrive at the center of the stage, open the presentation slides on your electronic tablet, even as you pray you don’t make a fool of yourself. Your mouth opens, at the same time the heel of your hand brushes the edge of the tablet, knocking it on the ground. The clatter echoes across the hushed platform. Your fingers tremble as you lift the darkened screen. You scan the crowd in front of you; noticeable fidgeting causes a contagious rustle. You clear your throat, offer a half-smile, and scramble to remember what your notes said.
Once again, your lips part, but instead of a greeting, a guttural growl boomerangs through the microphone.
Is this a nightmare for anyone but me?
These days, whether writing non-fiction or novels, authors need to work twice as hard as public speakers to market their books.
But why do our minds threaten to sabotage us when we stand in front of smiling faces, in a sea of expectant people clamoring to hear the messages we’ve waited to share? Are we doomed to fail when panic replaces our passion? What goes on inside our brains?
Though I agree with most people who rank public speaking in their top five worst fears, there are tips I’ve learned to help reduce my anxiety.
1. Study your material intently.
2. Practice in front of a mirror.
3. Read the Bible. This simple answer saved me in the past, when anxiety medication, panic inhibiting techniques, and other methods failed to help me move past fear. I discovered that immersing myself in God’s Word calmed my frazzled nerves.
4. Follow sound advice. The Anxiety Coach offers practical instructions to settle emotions that threaten to keep you from spreading your message.
5. Wear comfortable clothing. Function along with your fashion.
6. Get serious about laughter. Humor relaxes emotions, body, mind, and spirit. Watch a funny program immediately before leaving to speak. Read a riotous book or article. Listen to a comedic CD or download on your way to the presentation.
7. Thirty minutes before speaking, drink water to hydrate your vocal chords, brain cells, and emotional sensors. Water is a miracle drug. (Thirty minutes should allow your body time to shed waste, so you can visit a restroom before taking the stage.)
8. Prior to walking onto your platform, breathe in slowly through your nose, count to ten, and release slowly through your mouth. Repeat twice, so you follow the process a minimum of three times.
9. Prayer walk to the front of your audience.
10. Don’t make a big deal out of flubs. Remember, most audiences won’t recognize mistakes, so carry on, or make light of it. Besides, mess-ups make us more human to observers.
Speaking is part of the modern writing model, but no need to worry. You can overcome and share with confidence.
How do you take courage in the face of public speaking fears in order to promote your books?
9 Replies to “Overcoming Your Speaking Fears to Market Your Books”
People doesn’t know what you will speak and trying to teach them, so there’s nothing to fear about speaking.
You make this sound so easy. But the very thought has my heart pounding. I hope to overcome this.
Definitely not easy, Sharon. My heart feels like it’s going to pound its way out of my chest every time I prepare to walk in front of an audience.
But I promise, the techniques above really do help. And if you go to the links included, there’s additional information on why we react that way, and how to move past fear. The steps above are simply the ones I’ve found that work for me. Ask God to give you your own list — you know you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you. 🙂
The practicing in front of a mirror is so important Even creating a video of practice sessions and watching it is helpful. It can be humbling, but it’s better to correct yourself than have the audience point it out. Thanks for this great post about a very real anxiety.
Thank you, Kimberly. Practice may not make perfect, but it sure reduces anxiety.
As a former therapist who has dealt with many clients who have had anxety attacks, your steps offered fit nicely with the majority of the steps that most counselors employ in helping person deal with major anxiety. One important one is that one doesn’t get over anxiety attacks by fighting them, or trying to make them go away. That is a reinforcer for the anxiety and actually will make it worse. We teach people to accept them, realize that they don’t last all day nor will they likely last a lifetime. One is to accept them and and find a way to manage the systoms. That step is specific to the individual. Researchers in this field do not know what causes anxiety attacks.
Moving on from them is generaly done one small step at a time. For example, if a man has anxiety attacks everytime he leaves home and he come to you because he is now stuck at home all the time, which he is now ok with. However, someone else wants him to be able to leave home so he seeks help. Among several steps, a counselor will help him go out of the house briefly successfully and then back, broadening the range each time the last time out was successful. There is more but i don’t want to take away from your excellent posting.
One analogy and a quick story.
The game of golf is much like life with lessons to be learned. In golf when you are in a tough spot and anxious about your position, the tendency is to bear down, try harder, give that little extra. That almost always results in a bad swing, or bad hit or just the opposite of what you want the extra effort to bring you. What experiened golfers learn to do is to relax, not swing hardier, but if anything to swing easier and to let the club and your natural rhythem take over and get you out of the tough spot.
The most unusual ending, a quite positive one,to a time when i helped someone with extreme anxiety was a young wife and mother who was severely phobic about every leaving her home because of her tremendous anxiety when she did leave. She had young children and what motivated her to seek professional help was that she was missing so much of her kids lives in not going to their school activities, etc. She thus was highly motivated to do some thing about her issues and her avoidance behaviors.. We worked over seveal months to expand her range of traveling and how to have an escape route and emergency process if and when she got anxious. After a few months of work, this highly motivated woman was traveling quite well around her home community and very thankful.
She however still had extreme anxiety about traveling outside of her community and especially had flying anxiety to where she wouldn’t see her brothers and sisters who lived on the West coast for months, until they came to see her. Through the same process, she overcame her flight anxiety after a few more months of work and ended counseling quite successfully.
Two months after her last appointment, she dropped by to see me to tell me that all was still well and how she was going to celebrate with her husband their 15 year wedding anniversary that weekend. He had always wanted to go skydiving and to have her go with him and she had reservations to do just that!!!! She actually was quite excited about it all (I was the one then with the anxiety even thinking about doign that!!!). I never heard from her again but decided that that was one motivated woman who was quite cured of most anxieties.
Wow, Dennis. What an amazing response, and a lot of what you say certainly enhances my points. I really appreciate your taking the time to add your comment. God Bless You. 😀
We are having common experiences on our life journey. I am a retired therapist and a new writer of books on Families (Families are Forever). Four chapters are on feelings , one gives a lot of the same information on how to manage anxiety.
I truely did work with an amazing woman who after she got over her severe anxieties, went skydiving to celebrate!!
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