We always ask ourselves why I am so scared of public speaking? In this article, I want to explain what our brain reaction to fear of public speaking is? I want to discuss it in the psychology field.
Fear of public speaking pound into our brain from nowhere. Why are we scared of public speaking?
There are three reasons for fear of public speaking
These three reasons are related to three parts of our brain:
1- old brain
I tried to write this article as simple as I could so everyone can understand. We can’t say just one part of the brain is involved or exactly which part is working in every job. But I explained it this way to show a better way to overcome this fear.
Fear of old brain
The old brain is a part which always analyzes the environmental behavior. Survival is the most important thing to it. Most people are suffering from the old brain’s fear. In ancient times when survival was an essential factor, what made someone’s ejection?
Saying something wrong and doing unacceptable actions in the group.
Back to new life. Imagine you are standing in front of people and ready to open your mouth and talk. Old brain starts talking: “whoa, whoa… danger… danger… if you say something wrong, you may die.
It’s right that you may not die, but old brain won’t notice that. It just seeks your survival. Fighting. Running or standing motionless.
Most of the time the reaction in public speaking is running or standing immovable.
Running: if it’s possible, we avoid the speaking. If we have to speak, we talk as fast as we can to finish it as soon as possible.
Steady: you freeze and talk artificially. Your mind is empty.
We can do things to avoid these situations:
Accept the fear: This kind of fear can happen in every talk. Accepting it may help you accompany it. If you fight it (for example tell yourself you are not scared of public speaking), you may make things worse.
You have to get used to the fear: this way you may suffer less than you did before. Because your old brain will know that fear is not one of the deadly threats like being eaten by a lion.
So you have to try not to feel anything about this fear. Use each opportunity to speak in public.
2- Mid brain and mid brain’s fear
The mid brain contains our feelings. Compare to other parts of our brain; midbrain made us scared of public speaking when we remember previous fears.
If other students mocked us at school, something happened, and we were embarrassed in an important meeting, the memory of it and its feeling will come for us.
When we know the previous experiences consciously which caused us to be scared of public speaking, it’s best to analyze how bad it was and what was the result.
If we keep telling ourselves it was horrible; this experience will have a worse effect on us in future talks.
Here is a practice:
1- Think about one of your hardest and the most stressful presentations.
2- What grade is it from 0% to 100%?
3- Imagine you lost your little finger in a crash.
4- What grade is this accident from 0% to 100%?
5- Now compare your bad presentation to loss of a finger.
First, most people rated the bad experience almost close to 100%, but after thinking about losing a finger, they changed it to 0%.
We rather have a new experience than losing our finger.
Losing a finger helps us imagine the bigger picture. (if we don’t care about losing one of our fingers, we can imagine our hand cut out of our wrist, or one of our loved ones lost their finger.)
Logically, new experiences and presentations are not so bad, after all. They are nothing compare to some horrible things that happen in our life. (breaking ups, losing someone we love, an illness)
The most severe result of a bad presentation is losing our sell or voting in a task. (which I’ve never heard someone lose his job because of his lousy presentation). They are bad results, but they are not catastrophic.
3- New brain and new brain’s fear
The new brain is the conscious part of the brain.
Most of us have samples for our thoughts which are related to our fear. You can reduce your anxiety by discovering these samples.
This section is the basis for treating cognitive behaviors.
One of the most common samples in our mind that causes fear is our needs and desires from the audience.
Let’s make it clearer with an example:
I had a training course once and I knew one of the most critical members of a company with which I wanted to work was in this class. I was nervous. It was hot on the way. My heartbeat was rising. Why? Why did I have these reactions? I had a request form that company and I thought: this company is vital. I have to impress them.
This need made me scared of public speaking and what was the result? I made a mistake in the structure I always gave at the beginning of my class which I did it before almost a hundred times.
There are several needs we have:
1- We have to be exciting and attractive
2- We don’t have to forget anything
3- We can’t talk unclear
4- No one can know I am scared of public speaking
5- I have to be able to answer all of their questions.
We can’t ensure that we can fulfill them all. That’s why we are so scared of public speaking. We have to analyze the accuracy and use of the needs to reduce their power. For example, my partnership with this company was not necessary. I can’t impress everyone. Some people might not agree with me. I could have seen it sooner and prevent the mistake from happening.
I know the fear of public speaking can weaken us and stop us from using excellent opportunities in life and being successful but I hope these small points help you lower your anxiety a little bit.
We all know that public speaking is a powerful tool and if we use it well, it can describe us as a powerful and influential person. But most people avoid it because it’s scary or they have unacceptable presentations! So it’s you who should change this huge threat into a valuable opportunity.