Creative Visualization to Conquer Fear
We’ve all heard the well-worn adage, “Picture the audience in its underwear!” I don’t know about you, but if I stood in front of a group of people and visualized them all in their “delicates,” I would be laughing too hard to speak at all (or horrified into muteness). But the idea is a good one: changing your thoughts from something negative to something positive is one of the best ways to overcome your fear. Also known as Creative Visualization, this technique is used by elite athletes, actors, and motivational speakers – including yours truly – and will become a trusted tool in your public speaking toolbelt.
There are two points of creation in any aspect of our lives: our thoughts and consciousness, where we conceive of ideas and visualize the desired outcome, and our actual actions, where we take our thought or idea and make it a reality. More often than not, if you suffer from a fear of speaking in public, you’re getting tripped up on the first step, because you’re visualizing a negative outcome before you even get started! And whether you believe in the “Law of Attraction” or not, the reality is that fear feeds on itself, and you’re serving your fear a four-course feast before you ever write your speech!
Creative visualization works by taking those negative thoughts and changing them to the desired outcome. And, while it does require practice, it’s not nearly as hard as you would think. Find a quiet space and sit down. Take a few deep breaths (more on breathing in another post!) and focus. Then, ask yourself, “What do I think of when I visualize public speaking?” When those fearful thoughts come – and they will – take note, and then firmly direct your thoughts to a positive outcome. Literally, see yourself having a positive experience. Picture the perfect conditions for delivering your speech, and run through it in detail. Watch yourself as you hit every mark, land every joke, and see the audience smiling and applauding. Heck, picture them cheering! Since you should practice your speech several times before delivering it, practice this each time. Keep practicing until you feel a shift in your internal experience.
Sound like a lot of psychobabble? It’s not! The science behind positive creative visualization has been affirmed in thousands of studies. Aside from anything else, thinking positive can’t hurt, so why not give it a try? I’d love to know how it works for you!
In my next post, I’ll be talking about preparation and practice as important tools in overcoming the fear of public speaking.