Change the way you think, and the speaker your audience notices will change. That’s the conclusion of neuroscientists and psychologists who study anxiety and fear, especially in public speaking. “We are all wired to fear the downsides of uncertainty,” write Nathan and Susanna Furr. “But we forget that change, creation, transformation, and innovation rarely show up without some measure of it. The co-authors merged their knowledge to address a problem that increasingly affects professionals: the fear of starting something new.
Innovation requires uncertainty as a fundamental component. Any meaningful action carries some risks and uncertainties, whether starting a business, accepting a promotion, or agreeing to give a presentation to the board. The bottom line is that humans are programmed to fear the unknown, for better or worse. You must change your attitude and perspective toward the situation to perform at your best. For most, every presentation is a matter of life or death because of our natural fight-or-flight response. However, during the past 300,000 years, things have changed. As a student receiving a B on a speech, you gave to the class rather than an A or failing to persuade an investor to support your proposal. You can manage your fear and learn to succeed either way.
When speaking in front of an audience, uncertainty, the subject of Furr’s book, sets off the flight or fight response. Since they are unaware of how their presentations will turn out, presenters tend to think negatively. These statements could sound something like:
- Others won’t well receive my presentation.
- I will embarrass myself in front of many people.
- My project won’t get supported.
Your brain is operating exactly as intended if this has happened to you and your body displayed symptoms of anxiety like sweaty hands and a quick heartbeat. Your body is being prepared for the threat by your brain. The solution is reframing, which refers to changing your perspective on a situation. The value of reframing uncertainty, or changing how you view uncertainty, has solid foundations in experimental study and practice.
The power of reframing can be used to overcome your fears and achieve success. Stop for a minute when you are caught in a negative loop. Instead, think about what lies ahead as an opportunity. New challenges force us out into the open where they provide opportunities like no other, while faults teach us valuable lessons which help make those who follow after them much stronger and more confident.
The fear of public speaking is real and affects many careers in entertainment, business, or other fields. To conquer this problem, you’ll need tools such as deliberate practice, but these alone won’t solve the issue unless your mental game has also been addressed. If we see our anxieties for what they are as doorways to possible futures, then soon enough, those same opportunities won’t seem so scary anymore. You can turn discomfort into joyous acceptance while simultaneously empowering others around you. To learn more about our 1-to-1 training: