Nothing to fear but fear itself....

Last week saw the first ever “Fear of Flying” course, and what an inspiration it was!

I had advertised it as a “Presenting for the Terrified” course.  I am approached countless times by people who want to tell me how much they dread having to speak in public, how they wake up sweating at the thought, and of their experiences of shaking, mumbling, blanking, and feeling as if they are going to faint.  But the vast majority of these people, when I offer them a place on a course, rapidly find a plethora of excuses not to attend “right now”.

But here were a group of people, willing not only to acknowledge that presenting was a huge issue for them, but actually prepared to take the next step and face their demons – not to mention risking the trip into central Birmingham in the aftermath of a night of riots! I was not particularly surprised that all of them were women. In my experience women are much more willing than men to admit to fears, which of course is the first step to overcoming them.

If you have read the Presenting With Passion section of my website, you will know that I truly believe that we are all excellent communicators, but that this natural ability is blocked and hindered by anxiety and performance-fear when we stand up to speak in public.  This was the first opportunity I had had to dedicate a whole day in the training room specifically to examine that fear in great detail, and experimenting with ways to reduce it.

Together we tried many of the tools I have gathered over the years, not least those I acquired ten years ago as (probably) the most petrified skydiving student in the world!  We practiced various breathing exercises, meditation and visualisation techniques, and also some NLP based reframing and anchoring systems.  We also turned the spotlight on fear itself and dared it to do its worst!

By the end of the day, every participant had surprised and amazed themselves by standing up and speaking boldly, passionately, and more importantly convincingly to the assembled room with few visible signs of nerves.  Of course, you don’t overcome all fear in a day, and you don’t become a world-class orator overnight, but each person in that room had taken a huge and admirable step towards becoming a brilliant Presenter with Passion.

Ladies – and you know who you are – I salute you!

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