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BellaOnline's Stress Management Editor

Afraid to Speak in the Spotlight – Learn to Get Over It

Some of us get “shaky nerves syndrome” when we have to speak to an audience or in situations where we might be sitting in a classroom or a meeting and it’s our turn to ask a question or present our comments. The heat of being observed causes our faces to flush, our heart to pound out of our chest and our body to tremble as though we just stepped out of the shower into the cold air. The ultimate unmasking is our quavering voice.

At the heart of the matter are personal doubts about: “Will they think that what I am saying is stupid?” or “Will they like me?” These cluttered thoughts inhibit effective communication because we turn inward instead of outward where our words are being received.

Whatever the occasion, PTA night, a workplace meeting or a big family gathering including the in-laws, shaky nerves and nagging thoughts can be managed and transformed into an advantage. The key is to channel the acute stress of self-expression in a situation where we feel that we are being evaluated into a strong, energetic presentation. The acute stress of making our voices heard can serve as a positive trigger because it wakes us up to prepare thoroughly, perform better and be more awake. Even our immune systems become more vigilant when our bodies are in high alert.

We need to practice the skill of listening to other people instead of worrying about what we will say next. Other people just love it when we listen to them and observe them. They feel more connected to us. When we become adept listeners, we lose the fear of communicating our ideas publicly and of being judged. We have created a rapport with the listeners. Begin this practice with the individual and then expand to the group.

Body language is the medium for our message. Body language is honest and intuitive and can enhance or undermine what our minds say. If our voice quavers, our chest sinks, our hands shake, and we don’t look people in the eye, we transmit insecurity and weakness. A slouching stance lowers our status in the pecking order. In short, we are making everyone around us feel nervous and stressed.

Let’s try straightening our posture to rise to our full height, standing at attention by putting our hands behind our back, one hand grasping the thumb of the other just like the military. This keeps our shoulders back and down, our heart open and our posture in good alignment to send oxygen to the brain to help us think clearly. We look like we have a substantial message to convey and at the same time are attentive to other people’s opinions.

Here are some suggestions to help you take your show on the road:
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com

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Content copyright © 2013 by Debbie Mandel. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Debbie Mandel. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Debbie Mandel for details.

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