Man covering his face as he has panic at the podium.

Working Through the Fear of Public Speaking and Other Phobias

Panic at the Podium. I was standing in front of a room full of people, and I was beginning to panic. My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty, and I could feel the fear creeping up my spine.

I had been agonizing for weeks over a presentation I was scheduled to make to a very large crowd expecting to be educated, but I was not prepared for what came next.

Suddenly my audience was a wall of critical silence, intent on exposing me. Logically I knew that was silly, but my emotional mind had stopped listening.

I tried to focus on my slides, but I couldn’t keep my mind from racing. What if they asked a question and I didn’t know the answer? Or I tripped and fell?

What if I vomited on stage? The possibilities were endless, and each one was more horrifying than the last.

The silence from the audience caused me to freeze. I felt I was being exposed as a fraud. It felt like everyone could see how scared I was, and that only made me more petrified.

Eventually the room erupted into applause, and I realized it was over. I stumbled off stage, my heart pounding in my chest. I had survived, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that again.

Avoid Panic at the Podium

Do you get anxious when you have to give a presentation in front of an audience? If so, you are not alone. Public speaking is one of the most common fears that people have.

In this blog post, I will examine the fear of public speaking and how to avoid panic at the podium. I will also provide some tips for preparing yourself before, what you perceive to be, a frightening task.

“See” Yourself Succeed: How Visualization Can Help

How do you achieve your goals? Do you simply put your head down and push forward, or do you take a more visual approach? When it comes to goal setting, many people swear by visualization techniques.

And for good reason – research has shown that when we picture ourselves achieving our goals, the same areas of the brain are activated as if we were actually doing it. 

This can apply to goals setting and overcoming certain phobias, such as; public speaking, swimming, or driving a vehicle.

This is a trick that athletes and other successful people use to accomplish goals and overcome irrational fear. We all know that we get good at something by repetition. No one picks up a musical instrument and plays it automatically.  It takes hours of practice.

The more we do something, the better we get at it. This is especially true when it comes to physical tasks like running a race or public speaking – both of which can be improved by visualization techniques.

The same parts of your brain and muscle fibers that are activated when the athlete is really running a race will be triggered again. But this time it’ll stick around because those memories have been deeply embedded into muscle memory.  

Visualizing yourself confidently making a speech creates a kind of muscle memory, so to speak. By imagining yourself giving a successful speech, you’ll be more confident when the time comes.

And the more confident you are, the better your speech will be.

Most people hate public speaking. It ranks up there with death and taxes as one of the things we dread the most. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can overcome your fear of public speaking through visualization.

BREATHING EXERCISES

Other tools that can help public speaking anxiety are breathing exercises. These exercises can be done anywhere, and they only take a few minutes to complete.

One of the best breathing exercises for anxiety is called “the four-count breath.” To do this exercise, simply inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and then exhale for four seconds.

Repeat this cycle a few times until you feel yourself start to calm down.

Another great breathing exercise is the “breath focus technique” you choose a focus word or phrase, such as “peace” or “relax.”

As you inhale and exhale, focus on repeating your chosen word or phrase. This exercise can help to calm your mind and ease your anxiety.

PROGRESSIVE RELAXATION: How to Use it in Meditation or Self-Hypnosis

The Progressive Relaxation technique helps people along with meditation or self-hypnosis sessions. These approaches use breathwork and focus on relaxing the body from head to toe starting at one point before moving gradually through the body. 

This can be accomplished by yourself through visualization or by listening to a meditation or self-hypnosis audio.

It can be used as a means to help you relax and calm your mind before making a presentation or any event that triggers the fight/flight/freeze response.  Of course, this can also be done with the guidance of a professional certified hypnotherapist.

This is a sample of how progressive relaxation works.

Shortly before your presentation take 20 minutes to relax and prepare your mind and body. Beginning with the breathing as mentioned above, then imagine yourself or visualize you are walking up to the podium. 

As you touch the podium you feel a warm calming sensation moving through your body.  You look at the audience and feel enthusiasm flowing through you.

As your eyes gaze around the room, you feel more and more confident.  You are so happy to be there…

Continue this practice every day.

  I like to do this right before bed when I am getting a little drowsy, so it can more easily bypass my critical mind into my subconscious mind. 

Here’s one for bedtime: after the breathing repetitions imagine yourself in a warm bath, your toes wriggling around as you relax for the first time.

Next, imagine that all of this is happening while being cradled by silk sheets and pillows; it’s just too comfortable to want anything else… you can add your own script.

The more you practice this, and the other approaches mentioned in this article, the more you will become calm, centered, and confident as a public speaker and avoid stage fright and panic at the podium.

I have links to hundreds of self-hypnosis and meditation audios on my website.


If you purchase an audio download, I may receive a small commission.  It helps keep the lights on.  Thanks!


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