Scared? Maybe You Should be Less Selfish

by on November 8, 2009
in Essay, Instruction

Narcissism causes you to focus on your own fear

Narcissism causes you to focus on your own fear

Speaking in public is scary. It causes a real reaction in your body, the fight or flight response, that results in adrenaline surging through your arteries, sweat breaking out on your forehead, and your heart rate peaking. Often when you’re in the grip of a fight or flight response, your brain stops functioning normally, and all you can think of is yourself, and how to get out of the speech you’re about to give.

But aren’t you being just a little selfish? There’s a room of interesting, curious people waiting for you, and you want to break a promise you made them, because you’re scared. And what are you scared of? Those same interesting, curious people out in the audience.

I’ve written about how avoiding narcissism can make you the centre of attention. If you avoid narcissism, you might also be a little less afraid as well. You can only feel fear when your attention is focused on yourself, when you are in a selfish mindset. You are wondering about your body reaction, wondering what the audience thinks about you, wondering if you’ll be judged well.

When you direct your attention out into the audience, you won’t feel your fear. Instead, you’ll be seeing things from their point of view. Never say to yourself, “I’m afraid”. Just turn your attention and energy out into the audience. As you become attentive to the audience’s point of view, you’ll understand their mood, curiosity and interest. You’ll be able to respond to that curiosity and interest by delivering the information and value only you can give.

Understanding the audience mood is the key to delivering dynamic, energising presentations that will leave them thinking, talking, and understanding your message. If you’re feeling stage fright, try being less selfish. See things from the audience point of view, and your fear will fade into the background.

Ben Wilson wrote this post from his small room in his small house near the ocean. If you enjoyed this, you might like to sign up for his free communication tips. The newsletter also has less talking in third person.
  • veebot

    maybe I should be less slefish but i really cant think of anything scarier than speaking in public, yet its one of my goals. i think i might actually prefer base jumping (FYI, i hate hights and would never jump off of anything).

    I'm loving your blog. here's to getting over my fear and to not being selfish.

  • beniaminus

    I'll toast to that! I often think that public speaking is like parachuting, very scary yet almost always safe. And often, the adrenaline rush can be rather addictive!