How-to: Stress ABC – breaking the cycle

Image credit Colourful Vowels by originally appeared on the Speaking Well in Public Facebook page, April 2015

Our reactions to stressful situations tend to happen in a repeating cycle of habits:

A – An Activating event happens

B – This triggers your Beliefs about it

C – The Consequence is your physical response; how you feel about what you’re thinking

In public speaking, the Activating event might be receiving the news that you have to give a presentation.

For so many people, the Beliefs around public speaking include ‘I hate public speaking … I’ll be nervous … I’ll fail … Everyone will think I’m a joke … ‘

Then as a result of this self-sabotage the Consequences are usually a shot of adrenaline, which instantly leads to a racing heart, feeling hot, red & sweaty, difficulty in thinking and speaking, panicky breathing and no vocal control, feeling sick and shaky … all the discomfort of that ‘fight or flight’ reaction.

And next time you’re told you have to give a presentation – the whole thing starts again.

When we constantly think we’re under threat, anxiety, nerves and panic can become a way of life, and can affect health, relationships and peace of mind.

You can take control of this, and move out of this repetitive spin and rinse cycle.

So next time it happens, call this Activating event, the news that you’re going to be giving a presentation, ‘a great opportunity to talk to some nice people about something interesting.’

Let your Beliefs include ‘I’m qualified to be giving this talk, I’ve planned and prepared, I’ve practiced and they really are nice …’

Get into this habit and the Consequences will start to include you feeling calmer, looking more relaxed, smiling naturally, controlling your breathing … and speaking well in public.

About Philippa Hammond

Speaking Well In Public offers a portfolio of public speaking courses for business, performance and social occasions designed and developed by Philippa Hammond, combining her skills and techniques as an award-winning trainer, working actor and voice artist. Philippa is a member of Equity and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.


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