Public speaking is ranked number one when it comes to those things that cause us stress. It's the biggest fear out there. Why? It's our fight or flight taking over. As human beings, we do not want to be in uncomfortable situations. And although we've evolved as humans, our brains are still primitive. It's constantly looking for threats. While our brains protect us, it's still operating from the place of looking for the dinosaur or saber tooth tiger. It cannot differentiate from a crowd of strangers or wild dogs. And because of that we experience stress. Public speaking for some people is like fighting against being eaten by a dinosaur.
I've been there and spent years behind the scenes as a Secret Service Agent. I was never comfortable up front. So when it was my time to be out front because of my career change, I had to train myself, just like you train for anything - a marathon, or studying for a test, you have to train yourself to be more comfortable with speaking. It never becomes 100% comfortable. When I first started doing Facebook Lives, I would start sweating a lot. It took doing it over and over and over again, until now I feel like I'm having an awesome conversation with the audience.
So how do you get over the stress of public speaking? You do it a lot. You go through the sweating, you go through stammering, you go from having to read the notes on your note card and then it happens. You turn an uncomfortable thing into a routine and more comfortable thing. Of course everybody sees the finished product, which is you making it look easy, not realizing how many months or years it took to hone in on your speaking craft. I've been speaking for a bunch of years now, and I still do not consider myself an expert. And like I said, I still get nervous. I think that's healthy.
So I would say, being healthfully stressed over public speaking is completely normal. We all want to do a good job and have a vision of how we want things to go. So we get anticipatory stress. And 99% of the time, it doesn't go the way you perceived it in your mind. Get comfortable with that. It's the fun part actually. Just know that it's okay, because while you're up there and everybody's looking at you and everybody's judging you, really, it's about crafting your message and telling your story the best way you know how, and that's all that counts. I guarantee you will change somebody's life sitting in that audience with your story. If you can approach public speaking in that way, then the stress is all worth it. Just throw the perfectionism out the window and let some stress lift off your shoulders.
So again, if you're stressed out over public speaking, find comfort that eight billion other people are right there with you. It's all about practice, practice, practice. In the Secret Service we practiced like we played. That's something to do with everything in the game of life. Practice the way you're going to play.
Check out SamanthaHorwitz.com and FB @ Sam Horwitz for more about combating stress.