You may have heard of an abundance or a growth mindset. You may have even adopted some tactics of business leaders with strong mindsets, such as exercising or working with coaches. But what mindsets combat the fears associated with performances in front of an audience?
Similarly to speakers, athletes must bring their ‘A’ game to very public arenas. Track-and-field star Allyson Felix ultra-focuses on the task at hand and blocks everything else out. Although impressive, that’s not exactly the best method for a public speaker–you need to be aware of your audience.
So, which mindsets work best specifically for public speaking?
Here are a few ways to transform your thought process to help you combat your fear. Get in the game and be fearless–start by believing you can.
Visualization: A Winner’s Mindset
You’ve heard it before: if you can dream it, you can do it. And that Walt Disney definitely had a point–in fact, it’s how most of the big names you see in any industry got to where they are.
Olympian Michael Phelps visualizes and plans for good and bad outcomes for each of his races. “One of the things that has been good for me I think, besides training, has been my sort of mental preparation.” Instead of worrying about what could happen, Phelps has already seen all possible circumstances and has programmed his body and mind to respond. He can stay present and focused when he enters the water.
“Your brain wants to solve your problems,” says best-selling author Jack Canfield after using the power of visualization to lead him from making $8,000 a year to $100,000 a year. “When you are ‘stuck’ it simply means that your mind isn’t open to the solutions,” Canfield continues. “Visualization releases this resistance and allows the brain to do its job and make you happy.”
Take a leaf out of Phelps and Canfield’s book: visualize. Think through each potential and explore all possibilities.
It Is What It Is: Labeling
It may seem counterintuitive to identify your fear, name it and embrace it, but that’s exactly what psychologists say to do.
Researchers found that “having greater emotional clarity about one’s fear can help reduce the physiological manifestation of this emotion.” Try reasoning your way through your fear. By understanding that it is part of the process, a speaker can then relabel those fears to make them productive emotions. Turn that fear into excitement and press onwards.
A great example is TED Speaker Brene Brown. After Brown’s TED Talk about the power of vulnerability went viral, Brown had to deal with her quiet life of academia being pushed into the limelight that comes with a TED Talk. When asked how to deal with critics and fear, Brown advised: “Say, I see you, I hear you, but I’ll do this anyway.”
Acknowledge your specific fears and relabel them.
Focus On What Gets You Pumped
Olympian Simon Biles has discussed her fear tactic. “Sometimes you’re a little bit scared,” she says, “but most of the time . . . you’re really just excited about it. So you just kind of throw fear out of the way.”
How can Simon Biles just “throw fear out of the way”? The gold medal gymnast focuses on what excites her more than what scares her. After all, Biles trains for 6 hours a day for one moment. She’s more excited to share her hard work than scared to actually perform her well-practiced routine.
By focusing on the aspects of your presentation which excite you, it helps to channel those nerves into enthusiasm and eagerness to share your message.
Nerves are a natural part of stepping on stage–everyone gets nervous. By changing your mindset to view fear as an asset instead of an enemy, you can make stage fright a thing of the past.