There are probably a few things you’re afraid of…. when it comes to speaking in front of audiences – your colleagues, your customers, your wider industry – but what really causes your adrenaline to spike even more than say, the casual address to a small team?
Adrenaline is a good thing when it gives our performance a lift, but when it tips into crippling nerves or prevents us speaking in the first place, it is a problem. And those occasions when there is more at stake, when you feel more self-conscious, or don’t feel as confident about your message are the times when many of us tend to be fearful.
You’ve no doubt heard of ‘fight or flight’ and understand why the body creates adrenaline to protect us in times of real or perceived threat, but most public speaking or presentation opportunities are NOT threatening until we sabotage our performance with too much adrenaline.
So what can we do about it:
- Understand the mind-body connection in taking our adrenaline from frisson to full-blown flight
- Start early to manage your adrenaline by getting your thinking straight
- Be less self-conscious – focus on them
In this short article, I’m going to focus on the mind-body connection, but you can access other ideas in my book: Help! I’ve Got A Presentation Coming Up or from other free articles at my Resources section of my website.
The Mind-body Connection & how the adrenaline ‘frisson’ becomes full-blown fear
The adrenaline cycle starts with a thought that you are under threat. This thought releases adrenaline, which the mind then interprets with another thought: the threat must be real because your body is reacting. So this releases even more adrenaline, which confirms the threat thought… and on and on it goes. Thought of threat – adrenaline – confirmed threat – more adrenaline – confirmed thought – more adrenaline … until we require extraordinary levels of courage to speak through the intense fear we are now experiencing.
The solution is to stop the cycle early on by overriding the first threat belief by telling yourself something else. You need to accept that you are getting all these adrenal responses, but stop the next thought being one of threat. Instead, mentally run through your adrenaline checklist: notice and ‘check’ each symptom without being bothered by it, but simply registering it as a positive sign you are ready to speak. It goes: Heart-rate: on; palms: sweaty; mouth: dry; (maybe have a sip of water here); face: warm, possibly slightly red etc…
Try it next time you have to speak and start to notice the adrenaline kick it. Having the ‘pre-launch checklist’ has been a real game-changer for many of my clients and before long, you will learn to experience adrenaline as the natural performance enhancer you need.
If you want to improve your presentations or public speaking skills you can book a ‘Discovery Call’ with Caroline Hopkins to find out more about how she can help you.