Thursday, April 29, 2004
What Would You Do: Public Speaking
From fear of flying to fear of drowning, all this month we're going to show people how to conquer their biggest phobias. Tonight, the greatest fear of all - What Would You Do if you had to speak in public. Here's 7's Charles Perez.
(WSVN) -- We've all been there.
Our heart starts racing ... Our palms start sweating ... Our throat suddenly dries up.
It's the moment more feared than death itself - public speaking.
Therapist Dr Paula Levine says, "Can it get so bad that you can find yourself in a full blown anxiety attack before even going out on stage? Yes, it can and it does, and those are the people who swear they will never do it again."
Dr. Levine says people who fear public speaking often talk themselves out of it.
"This anticipatory anxiety, which is really up here," she says pointing to her head, "which is the things you start to think about fearing."
But, according to the doctor, most of those mind games are irrational.
"People say to me that they're going to get so panicked that they're going to strip their clothes off," says Dr. Levine. "Somebody that's on a stage that fears sweating so profusely that a puddle will be left on the stage."
Thoughts that usually can be traced back to one bad experience.
"If a person has ever had an experience where they have actually froze, kids adults, go back to sixth grade and that book report when they stood there and no words came out of their mouth," says Dr. Levine.
And she's right. As a television anchor, I have to perform before an audience every day ... screw up and have no choice but to go on. So what do you do?
First, kiss that one bad experience from childhood good-bye.
"Let history go," says Dr. Levine. "Say to themselves, 'That was then, this is now. I'm more mature.'"
Second ... Instead of thinking thoughts like. "What if I freeze? What if I embarrass myself?" Think positive.
"Think self-reassurance," says Dr. Levine. "Dealing with the what-ifs as best they can. Becoming much more positive than negative. And, that requires self-talk."
Third, right before you go on ... take a few deep breaths.
"You are lowering your blood pressure," explains Dr. Levine. "You are lowering your heart rate. You are decreasing your perspiration rate."
And finally ... if the fear of public speaking is changing your life ... get professional help.
"If it was part my-- either my livelihood or job advancement, and I recognize that I continue to say, 'No, I can't do this, or I'm turning down income.' I would say there's an obstacle in my life that I need to get some help with."
And before too long ...
You'll be able to make mistakes ... and go on with the show like nothing happened.
Next week: What Would You Do if you had a fear of flying?
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