Monday, September 17, 2007

Public Speaking won't kill you .... will it?

Pat Wilson-Perkins, Area A4 Governor, (no relation to the person shown in the picture on the right) forwarded an article from titled, "Pulling back the curtain on stage fright ... Does your mind go blank in the spotlight?" by Patrick Enright.

The article is an interesting discussion about the biology of stage fright...
What's really going on when we get sweaty-palmed and sick to our stomachs?
Mary Fensholt, a consultant and author of "The Francis Effect: The Real Reason You Hate Public Speaking and How to Get Over It," puts it succinctly: "The fear of public speaking or performing is more than anything a fear of being eaten." Building on the theories of sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson, Fensholt argues that historically, being intently scrutinized and singled out was a prelude to being eaten by a predator, so human ancestors evolved a strong fear response against setting themselves apart from the protection of the group.

Clearly public speaking can initiate the "Fight or Flight" biology ... even though the audience is unlikely to attack the speaker (at least in the Toastmasters clubs I've been to).

The article includes some ways to minimize or at least manage the effects of stage fright...

While you may not be able to shrug off stage fright entirely, you can minimize its effects. Breathing exercises, visualization, focusing on relaxing your muscles and drinking a glass of grapefruit juice to stimulate the salivary glands all can help with the physical symptoms of stage fright, and, as Somjee
says, "If you can relax your body, your mind simply follows."
The article ends with a great way to put stage fright into perspective...
If you make a mistake, you may be embarrassed, but there are no real predators in the audience.
Again, your results may vary. (Especially if you are asked to speak at the lunch meeting of Predator Toastmasters.)

Click here for a sidebar to the article listing celebrities who have battled stage fright including Rod Stewart, Carly Simon and Barbara Streisand.

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