READ THIS BEFORE YOU ATTEND A PUBLIC SPEAKING COURSEWhen you attend a public speaking course, make sure they’ve got this covered. There are many courses out there. Based on my own experience of attending some of these and what others tell me, some very damaging teaching styles are sometimes used, like:
- Videos of participants presenting are shown to the entire class and then all the ‘mistakes’ are pointed out (sometimes very unskilfully).
- Participants are put on the spot to ‘perform’ in front of the whole class. When they freeze up they are ‘forced’ to blunder their way through it.
- They were shamed and humiliated for not ‘doing it right’ or their presentation style is made fun of or used as an example of ‘what not to do’.
THE COMMON FACTOR: THE LIMBIC BRAINWhat all these instances have in common is that they illustrate a lack of awareness of how our limbic brain affects us, even though this information has been in the public domain for decades. The limbic brain, which sits in the middle of your brain. It is also called the emotional brain, and it overrules your cognitive brain or frontal cortex (the part of your brain that allowed you to think, reason and work things out) any day of the week. It does not respond to language or logic, so you can’t ‘talk it down’. When you experience humiliation, shame or embarrassment the limbic brain takes over and shuts down your cognitive brain. Blood gets diverted from the brain to other parts of the body, which effectively makes you less smart. If this happens during a presentation skills course, the limbic brain now associates ‘presenting’ with your excruciating feelings of shame and embarrassment. It also stores this association for later reference – read on. Here’s where it gets interesting.
THE AMYGDALAThe amygdala, which forms part of the limbic brain, evaluates all new experiences that comes your way to decide if it’s safe for you. It does this by comparing what is happening now (or what is about to happen) with all your previous past experiences. If it finds a similar past event it also finds the association connected to the earlier event. In that sense it functions like a database. If the amygdala finds that a similar previous event was pleasant, then it relaxes and you can enjoy your coffee, a hug with your partner or your meditation retreat.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE WAS UNPLEASANT OR PAINFULIf, however the amygdala finds that the previous similar event (like public speaking) caused distress (e.g. shame, embarrassment or humiliation), it figures out that you are in danger of getting hurt again now. It now warns you that something is wrong so that you can either avoid the current situation, get away from it, change it or protect yourself from it. The way it gets your attention is to let you feel fear, anxiety or panic – all of which are hard to ignore, right?
SETTING YOU UP FOR FAILURE EVERY SINGLE TIMEAs long as these associations live inside you presenting = panic, shame, humiliation etc., the intense feelings will return every time you enter a similar situation. In fact, it now becomes a selffullfilling prophesy where you ‘know’ that you are going to get anxious, and then (because of the limbic brain), you do (get anxious) and now you get to be right about it.
YOU CANNOT THINK YOUR WAY OUT OF THISSince the limbic brain overrules your cognitive brain (the frontal cortex), you cannot think your way out of this or convince yourself that all is well. Even though you know intellectually that you are not in mortal danger when you have to present, your limbic brain will simply kick in and cause you to get nervous or anxious.
THE MISSING LINKIf it is the limbic brain that causes this loop (and it is) then it follows that we need to address the limbic brain when it comes to any fears and phobias, and in this case, the fear of speaking in front of people so that the amygdala does not go into overdrive at the mere mention of the word ‘public speaking’. There is a simple technique called EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) that has been clinically proven to de-stress and calm down your nervous system. In this way you break the links between past events and the feelings of those events, so that you can approach presenting with a clean slate, so to speak. Provided that you now have a pleasant experience of presenting, you’ll be much calmer the next time you present.
THREE KEYS TO EFFECTIVE PUBLIC SPEAKING TRAININGThere are three main reasons that Fall in Love presenting is so effective. REASON 1: It actively employs EFT to help break the stored link between presenting and fear. This allows you to build a new (pleasant) association with public speaking – unless of course you are shamed again by unskillful teaching methods , in which case the loop simply continues. REASON 2: It is taught in a non-threatening way. The #FILWP course gradually takes you through the steps of structuring, preparing and delivering a great presentation, one step at a time, in a relaxed and fun environment. In addition to creating a shame-free environment you now get to associate presenting with feeling good about yourself which is clearly a good thing. In this way your confidence keeps building, which only increases the effectiveness of your presentation. REASON 3: It is extremely content rich and teaches you every single step towards being a great presenter. This ranges from how to structure and prepare for your talk, where to stand, what to say, how to engage your audience, how to remember what you want to say, how to make it fun for the participants. The 130+ pages course workbook contains everything you need to know.
IN CONCLUSIONBefore you sign up for a public speaking course, ask a few questions:
- How much pressure is put on participants to ‘do it right’?
- Are recordings of participants used to give feedback to the whole class?
- How skilled are the trainers in giving skillful feedback? (“That wasn’t good enough”, “That was boring,” or “Your hands are all over the place,” is not skillful; it is shaming).
- How much do they know about the workings of the limbic brain, and what exactly do they do to alleviate the limbic-activated fear?
- We all have a limbic brain that tries to protects us from repeating past hurts.
- It does this by alerting us that something is happening that is similar to a past event that caused us hurt or discomfort,
- In extreme cases (e.g. fear, anxiety or panic) it shuts down the cognitive part of your brain.
- This causes you to have less intellectual ability and increases the odds of forgetting your words or doing something that might not make logical sense.
- Many people have intense fear of public speaking.
- The way to overcome that is to address the limbic brain’s alert system.
- Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) has been proven to do just that.
Creator, Fall in Love with Presenting & International Trainer