Let’s talk about some specific moments that can fill us with tension. Since most people’s worst fear is speaking in front of a group, let’s start there. You may be saying “There is no way I would ever give a speech in front of an audience, and the type of work I do would never require it.”
While that may be true, at some point, you will almost certainly be put on the spot in one way or another. You will be required to take command of a given moment at work or in your personal life. It could be a presentation, a job interview, a meeting— or a toast at a family dinner.
What you want in that moment is to be emotionally poised: comfortable, in charge, energetic, fairly relaxed and natural.
What usually happens to most of us when we’re on the spot, especially if we are on our feet, is that we feel totally exposed. The dreaded demon tension takes over, we lose our train of thought and our faces become frozen, flushed with embarrassment or drained of color. We don’t know what to do with our hands and our legs tremble. Sometimes we lock our knees just to keep them from shaking.
You’re Not Alone!
Mind you, you’re not alone. They don’t call it stage fright for nothing! How many times have you watched speakers who cross their hands in front of their bodies, as if holding on for dear life? This is known as the “fig leaf” position. You may have witnessed the reverse fig leaf, where speakers hold their hands behind their bodies. This is a very natural response, but it’s protective, not productive. When we’re afraid, we want to hold onto something and/or protect ourselves. The problem is that it’s not an effective way to communicate with presence and power. Rather, it looks weak and does nothing to reinforce the speaker.
Allow Yourself to be Seen
People also like to use podiums for protection. What a perfect thing to hold onto and hide behind! I know people who swear that it’s impossible to make a speech without their podium, but there are ways to work with it and without it. If you must use a podium, purposefully come out from behind it. It’s a much more powerful position and you will make more of an impact. Allow yourself to be seen.
Contact me today to learn how to overcome your fears and start Communicating In Spite of Your Tension!