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Getting Over Your Fear of Public Speaking

Nick Ortner 12-17

Americans fear public speaking more than death and rattlesnakes, statistics tell us, but in my years helping clients successfully overcome that fear using EFT tapping, I've discovered that the fear of public speaking has several faces. Most of us who are afraid of public speaking get "triggered" by different circumstances and specific parts of the experience.

To help you identify and overcome those triggers, I'm going to share some of the most common ones I've seen in clients over time and then give you a sample tapping script for overcoming them.

For those of you unfamiliar with EFT tapping, check out my earlier post, "Breakthroughs in Energy Psychology: A New Way to Heal the Body and Mind" to learn more about what it is, how it works, and how you can use it.

Research indicates that tapping is a really important tool for overcoming your fear of public speaking because it's incredibly effective at countering the stress response that our bodies undergo when we're afraid. During that stress response, also known as the "fight-or-flight" response, the amygdala, an almond-shaped mass in the mid-brain, tells our bodies to release large amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as adrenaline. This sudden of flood of hormones causes a series of physiological responses, including shutting down the creative center of the brain, slowing digestion, increasing heart rate, and more. Unfortunately, these physiological by-products of our body's stress response can make tasks like public speaking more challenging, which is why it's important to use a technique like tapping to quickly mitigate that response.

The first step in overcoming your fear, however, is to figure out your stress triggers around public speaking. Most people have several, and often they include some or all of the following:

What will they think of me? When all eyes are on you, it's completely normal (and human!) to wonder what people think of you and your presentation.

Are they judging me? Speaking to groups can feel threatening, like you're putting yourself in front of a firing squad. In reality, people are there because they're interested in what you have to say, because they want to learn from you, but it doesn't always feel that way.

Am I smart enough? Just as soon as we feel fully prepared and ready, we raise the bar even higher, and wonder if we know enough, have enough experience, intelligence, charisma... The list can be endless.

Who am I to talk in front of these people? As the speaker, you're supposed to command the room, but like most people, you probably look at yourself as being, well, normal. You're busy living your life, doing what you do, so it seems unnatural to step back and recognize how much value, knowledge, and insight you really do bring to the table, or in this case, the stage.

What if I mess up? The reality is, people aren't expecting you to be perfect, and may even appreciate knowing that you're human, but when you're the one in the spotlight, it doesn't always seem that way.

Do any of these triggers strike a chord with you? Which ones make you nervous or uncomfortable? One great way to figure that out is to visualize the entire public speaking experience -- from when you're first asked to speak, preparing for your talk, delivering your talk, then completing it. As you imagine the entire experience, include these triggers, and any others that come to mind. Once you imagine yourself in those situations, you'll quickly be able to tell which triggers resonate with you.

The next step is to use tapping to begin clearing your triggers. In the tapping script below, I focus on the first trigger, what will they think of me?, but if that's not on your list, use one that does trigger you.

To start, give your issue a number, 0-10, with 10 being the most intense. Then create your setup statement, and starting tapping:

Karate Chop: Even though I'm stressed about what they'll think of me, I completely and deeply accept myself.

Eyebrow: Makes me nervous.
Side of the eye: Freaks me out.
Under eye: Too many people.
Under nose: Don't like all the attention.
Chin: So many people watching.
Collarbone: Too many people.
Under arm: Too much attention.
Top of head: Stresses me out.

Keep tapping until you feel relief, and then check in with yourself. You'll want to continue tapping until your anxiety is a 3 or lower. At that point, you're ready to tap in some positive emotion, which is what we'll do now. You don't need a setup statement for this.

Eyebrow: I choose to trust that they'll love my talk!
Side of the eye: So many people coming to hear what I have to say.
Under eye: Lots of people interested in my topic.
Under nose: I can definitely keep people engaged in what I'm saying.
Chin: So much great energy!
Collarbone: Exciting to share my message with all these people.
Under arm: I am really well prepared.
Top of head: This is going to be great!

Keep tapping like this until you're feeling grounded in that positive emotion, and as always, use your own words when you're tapping.



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