Standing up in front of an audience can be a challenging experience for many people. The visibility and transparency can feel very unsettling. We may be saying one thing with our words but our bodies may be showing something completely different to our audience.
Our energy, physicality and emotions may appear to have a life of their own. In a way, they do. We may be visibly nervous or shaking. We may be showing physical tensions in our body. For example we may have a clenched jaw, clamped chest or shallow breathing. There could be a shift or tightness in our voice.
These physical tensions are the body's attempt at stopping the energetic and emotional releases from happening. Emotions may leak or explode out unexpectedly in the form of fear, sadness or anger (to name a few).
It can be very frightening and overwhelming to have all of this non-verbal, physical, emotional activity going on in front of an audience we are trying to speak to. The desired message can get lost in all the other levels of communication going on.
Alexander Lowen wrote The Betrayal of the Body and The Body Never Lies. He talked about the mind-body connection. He said our life history is recorded in our bodies.
Chronic, muscular tension or 'armoring' is a defense against threatening feelings. Our body will always tell the truth even when out intellect is trying to appear another way to the public.
As humans, we have an ability to override our bodies where other animals do not. We can tell our selves we are fine when we aren't and even tell it to ourselves often enough that we begin to believe it….even though we are not.
Our minds and bodies may be working overtime to manage all these various impulses happening in the moment. Our worst fears threaten to come true. We fear being seen as weak, incompetent, stupid or unworthy.
We may fear being 'found out', fired or abandoned, shamed or humiliated. Everyone can see what we are trying so hard to hide. “They see that I'm scared, insecure, unconfident, threatened. I don't feel I deserve to be here."
I would like to give you some specific tools to help you prepare for these challenges and some other tools you can use to fall back in the actual situation.
Having said that, the best plan is to be proactive and come for some psychotherapy where we can work with your mental, emotional, energetic and physical symptoms.
In the safety of the office, where actual threat is at a minimum, we can look at the deeper issues causing your surface symptoms and release and resolve them at their source.
We can explore options and shape the look you desire for yourself, one level at a time. You can feel a mastery over your mind and body in any public speaking situation.
Having worked with actors for over 30 years as well as performed myself all my life, I am well aware of the challenges presented to performers and public speakers.
Remember, our audience is in our hands. Their level of comfort is dependent upon our experience. They are invested in us being successful and comfortable. If you are uncomfortable, then likely, so are they.
Coming out of your head and into your heart can connect you into a softer, more generous place where you can focus on helping others feel safe and comfortable rather than focusing on your own worries. Some of the best actors I've worked with were focused on making everyone around them look their best and in turn they shone radiantly from their generosity.
Remember to breathe. Although breathing deeply can also stir up those feelings that you are trying to manage and keep at bay. Regular physical and vocal exercise helps to strengthen your mind-body connection but it isn't all that you need.
Breathing in while smelling an imaginary rose (or something that you love) and breathing out, blowing out an imaginary candle can focus your mind and breath helping with stress and worry.
Creatively, if you are feeling ungrounded and your energy is rising up in your body, you can shift your focus to the bottoms of your feet, your legs or your pelvis. Take your shoes off if you can and feel the ground with the souls of your feet. Shake your feet, legs, hands and arms while blowing out through your lips to get your energy moving.
If you have too much energy then grounding your self through your feet by bending and straightening your legs drawing energy up through your body from the ground. Run on the spot in short bursts of energy.
I would be happy to help you find your strength, confidence and creativity for public speaking. We can customize it to meet your specific needs with it. Public speaking could be a pleasant, relaxed, energizing experience. You don't need to agonize over it any longer, there is help available and change is possible.