Episode 2

How to Deal with Public Speaking Fear - At Least It’s Not Snakes

In Episode 2 of Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking, Kirsten shares tips for managing fear of public speaking, which polls regularly rank as one of Americans’ top fears. She discusses why you want to feel butterflies in your stomach and how to get into the right mental space before turning on the camera. Kirsten also explains why Rourke Training’s #1 rule is: If your presentation doesn’t adapt in any way to your audience, make a video. Finally, you’ll hear how Kirsten’s experience in a dance troupe affects her work today.

** Obviously, standing is often better when presenting. In this episode, we’re specifically talking about people who need to or choose to sit while presenting online.

Key take-aways:

  • How to deal with the butterflies in your stomach 
  • How to get into the right mental space BEFORE you turn on the camera
  • What is Rourke Training’s #1 rule?

Join our Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking Skills group on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/14104216/


Rourke Training’s webpage: https://www.rourketraining.com/

Ongoing Masgtery: Presenting & Speaking page: https://ongoing-mastery.captivate.fm/


RSS feed: https://feeds.captivate.fm/ongoing-mastery/

To read a transcript of this episode: https://share.descript.com/view/JQnncQ4S9b7

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirstenrourke/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kirstenmalenarourke

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kirstenrourke?lang=en

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rourketraining/

Transcript
Kirsten:

Welcome to Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking.

Kirsten:

It's a podcast and a community.

Kirsten:

I'm Kirsten Rourke, speaker, presenter, and founder of Rourke Training.

Kirsten:

And this is Kellie.

Kellie:

Hey there, I'm Kellie, producer, writer, and herder of cats.

Kirsten:

Oh, so many cats.

Kirsten:

After over 20 years of speaker and presenter, I've seen it all

Kirsten:

and I'm sharing it with you.

Kirsten:

Ongoing Mastery is about continual improvement of your craft.

Kirsten:

You'll learn tips and hear from industry leaders.

Kirsten:

I'll tell you straight up what works and what doesn't so you can thrive.

Kirsten:

Let's get started.

Kirsten:

Welcome to episode two, "At Least it's not Snakes."

Kellie:

Why is it called that Kirsten?

Kellie:

That's really weird.

Kirsten:

That is a little weird.

Kirsten:

So fear of public speaking is a thing that a lot of people experience.

Kirsten:

And even if you are somebody who enjoys public speaking, you still end up having

Kirsten:

fear responses or nervous responses.

Kirsten:

But every poll that talks about fear, that ends up asking, "Public speaking,

Kirsten:

where does that rank in your fears?," my absolute favorite one of all was Gallup

Kirsten:

in 2001, ranked public speaking as the second most terrifying thing for people.

Kirsten:

It ranked higher than drowning and higher than death.

Kellie:

eeesh

Kirsten:

People would rather die.

Kirsten:

But the number one fear was snakes.

Kellie:

Are you afraid of snakes?

Kirsten:

I am not afraid of snakes.

Kirsten:

I am actually ridiculously afraid of small insects.

Kellie:

Yeah, I don't, I don't like small insects.

Kellie:

I'm afraid of heights.

Kellie:

I don't mind heights in a building, but heights outside, not for me.

Kirsten:

Heights outside, it depends on the height.

Kirsten:

Like super, super high in a building bothers me, but, like, I did have my

Kirsten:

friends gather money together to pay, to jump me out of a plane at, when I was 25.

Kellie:

Why would you jump out of a perfectly fine airplane?

Kirsten:

Because there was a parachute and it was fun.

Kellie:

For certain values of fun.

Kirsten:

For certain values of fun.

Kirsten:

It is, it was so high that it was literally just beyond

Kirsten:

conceivable of the height.

Kirsten:

And my brain just went into, I looked out of the plane and

Kirsten:

instantly went, "Fluffy clouds, wow."

Kirsten:

And the guy who was attached to me, who was the jump instructor, just

Kirsten:

leaned forward and we went out.

Kirsten:

Um, it was an amazing experience.

Kirsten:

My friends paid to push me out of a perfectly good airplane.

Kirsten:

Because that's the kind of friends they are.

Kellie:

Okay.

Kirsten:

So public speaking fear, one of the things that happens when

Kirsten:

you're presenting, I mean, even people who are quote unquote "speakers,"

Kirsten:

have reactions, have nervousness, have fear, but a lot of people

Kirsten:

would rather not do public speaking.

Kirsten:

And that's kind of what we're about, is helping the people who have to

Kirsten:

do public speaking, but it's not kind of built into their software.

Kirsten:

Because everybody has those reactions, even if you're like me

Kirsten:

and were the kid that, I was two or three and I was in a cart in the

Kirsten:

supermarket and my mom walked away.

Kirsten:

And she came back and found that I had three pennies in my hand because

Kirsten:

I said, "Hey lady, got penny?"

Kirsten:

to total strangers.

Kellie:

Yeah, that wasn't me.

Kellie:

I was not the theater geek in school.

Kellie:

I was the person way in the back of the auditorium.

Kirsten:

Yeah.

Kirsten:

So let's talk about how you handle that.

Kirsten:

With public speaking, there is the idea of butterflies in the stomach, and right

Kirsten:

now I'm speaking, speaking that the, English being my first language, I'm

Kirsten:

speaking specifically to those of you for whom public speaking is challenging.

Kirsten:

Later, we're going to be talking to those of you for whom it is more natural.

Kirsten:

When you go to do public speaking, if you are one of the many, many people for whom

Kirsten:

your hands are sweaty, they feel a little clammy, you feel nervous butterflies

Kirsten:

in your stomach, that jittery feeling,

Kellie:

your hands get shaky,

Kirsten:

and your legs feel weak, and maybe your shoulders hurt, all of

Kirsten:

that is your body's natural reaction to what is perceived as danger.

Kirsten:

And normally you would think, okay, I need to remove all of that,

Kellie:

but that's not quite thing.

Kirsten:

No, you actually don't.

Kirsten:

What you need to do is remove some of it.

Kirsten:

Because, if you were to remove all of those sensations, if you were

Kirsten:

completely to Zen, and I'm going to sit down and calm myself down

Kellie:

mmmmm

Kirsten:

and get completely mellow, and then go do the thing, you then

Kirsten:

have to overcome the energy hump to get geared up to do the thing.

Kirsten:

And that's actually a disadvantage.

Kellie:

There's a reason walkout music for baseball pitchers is a thing.

Kirsten:

You know, you want to have that energy up.

Kirsten:

So, what you want to do, is you want to relax your extremities.

Kirsten:

You want to take the tingle out of your hands by breathing.

Kirsten:

You want to get your legs more stable by breathing.

Kirsten:

Get yourself centered, but do not get rid of the butterflies in your stomach.

Kirsten:

You need those.

Kellie:

Why?

Kirsten:

They're your battery.

Kellie:

Okay, you've got to explain that.

Kirsten:

So, the butterflies in your stomach is an energy.

Kirsten:

The fact that you're nervous, your body's keyed up a little bit, that's

Kirsten:

a good thing because that excitability state that your body is aware of

Kirsten:

is an energy level that you need.

Kirsten:

For example, in doing online presenting, one of the things I coach

Kirsten:

my clients about is that you want to sit upright as much as you can.

Kirsten:

You want your arms off the armrests.

Kirsten:

And you want to be a little bit leaning forward and really engaged

Kirsten:

physically, so that it is easier for you to engage verbally and mentally with

Kirsten:

that material and with the audience.

Kirsten:

It's a lot harder to do it.

Kirsten:

Sit back in your chair and if you're driving, obviously don't.

Kirsten:

You know, pull over if you're going to do this, but sit all the way back

Kirsten:

in your chair, put your arms on the rest, and just let your body relax.

Kirsten:

And now think about trying to do a speech or a presentation from this state,

Kellie:

from this body position,

Kirsten:

this body position, this lack of, honestly, lack of charisma.

Kirsten:

Now sit forward.

Kirsten:

Lift from your sternum.

Kirsten:

Relax your shoulders back.

Kirsten:

Take your arms off the arm rest, put them in front of you, somewhere in

Kirsten:

front of your torso so that you can gesture with your hands, and do the

Kirsten:

cheeks, the middle part of your face, straight forward to your audience.

Kirsten:

Now you're ready to talk.

Kirsten:

Can you feel the difference?

Kirsten:

Because it should be different for you as an energy and as a mental state,

Kirsten:

to be able to get to that place.

Kellie:

Yeah, the mental state is really crucial for it to work.

Kirsten:

And while we're on that, let's talk about mental prep.

Kirsten:

Okay.

Kirsten:

The, the space that you need to be in, and let's use online presenting

Kirsten:

as our example, because you do need this for in-person work, but online

Kirsten:

presenting has some extra challenges.

Kellie:

Yeah, challenges, let's call it that.

Kirsten:

Let's call it that, not giant pains in the ass.

Kirsten:

No.

Kellie:

No, that's not professional.

Kirsten:

No, not professional.

Kirsten:

You didn't hear that.

Kirsten:

So when you're talking about online presenting, what you want to do is think

Kirsten:

in terms of the person in the audience has the exact same public speaking

Kirsten:

fear that you do, probably much worse.

Kirsten:

That person hesitates to engage, even in the chat pod, that person has a

Kirsten:

limitation on them to feel that they can perform, they can contribute,

Kirsten:

they can engage with you because they've got a lot of distractions

Kirsten:

and you have not invited them in.

Kirsten:

One of the things that I ask people to do when I'm coaching them is to move their

Kirsten:

camera somewhere to in their eyeline.

Kirsten:

And that may mean propping up your laptop or moving things around, but get a camera

Kirsten:

that's near your eyeline, so that you are looking into it because you are

Kirsten:

making eye contact with your audience.

Kirsten:

Have you ever done a presentation watching a person talk and their heads turned off

Kirsten:

to the side and they're reading the slides to you because the point is for them to be

Kirsten:

reading the slides and it's not about you?

Kellie:

Or, they're looking up or down, so you can see either their

Kellie:

throat or their hairline while they read their material to you,

Kirsten:

and you're looking up someone's nostrils, which is always a good time.

Kellie:

Very pleasant.

Kirsten:

The problem with that, is that is coming from exactly the wrong perspective.

Kirsten:

That is the material is important in the is not, and that is, frankly, horseshit.

Kirsten:

That's just wrong.

Kellie:

Deadly.

Kirsten:

So if you are not, and this is our key, key rule number

Kirsten:

one, Rourke Training client rule.

Kirsten:

If your presentation, if your speech, if your performance does not adapt at

Kirsten:

all to the fact that you have people in the audience, their feedback, their

Kirsten:

questions, anything at all, if you don't adapt to that, make a video.

Kirsten:

You might as well make a video, because the live action of having someone there,

Kirsten:

even on the other side of a keyboard, they should be impacting you a little bit.

Kirsten:

You can still stick to your material.

Kirsten:

You can still get all your points made.

Kirsten:

But if you are not impacted by the fact that there's an audience, then you,

Kirsten:

there is no point in having an audience.

Kellie:

It's yet another presentation that could have been a video.

Kirsten:

Exactly.

Kirsten:

You know, the meeting that could have been an email, a presentation

Kirsten:

that could have been a video.

Kirsten:

Most presentations should be a video.

Kirsten:

Then you load it up, do a Loom so you can have your face on the camera, if

Kirsten:

you want your face there, that's fine.

Kirsten:

Do a Loom, load that up as a live, and then go through and attend that

Kirsten:

meeting and be in the chat pod, asking people what they think and making

Kirsten:

comments, so you're there for them.

Kirsten:

You're still getting the feedback.

Kirsten:

You're still doing the sales pitch.

Kirsten:

But if you can't get off of your script at all, then make it a video.

Kirsten:

Do not make it a presentation.

Kirsten:

A presentation is a performance.

Kirsten:

It is an interaction.

Kirsten:

It is a conversation.

Kellie:

So how do we do that?

Kellie:

How do we get in the right mindset that invites our audience into a conversation?

Kellie:

Because that's not just a snap of the finger.

Kirsten:

It's not, and it starts before you turn the software on.

Kirsten:

One of the things is having the camera in your eyeline.

Kirsten:

You also have to have your head space in the right spot to look at that camera.

Kirsten:

Now, if you are looking at the camera and you automatically are

Kirsten:

seeing someone's eyes, you've got better imagination than I do.

Kirsten:

So I used to have to tape up a picture.

Kirsten:

Now I can do it in my head.

Kirsten:

But I actually, and I'm going to throw it a little shout out in the show

Kirsten:

notes to my buddy, Phil, who's going to turn bright pink when he hears this,

Kirsten:

and I'm picturing that right now and it's making me very happy, who was my

Kirsten:

best friend in college, Phil Mares.

Kirsten:

I, for years, when I was doing online training for the first time, and this was

Kirsten:

a long time ago when I started, I would picture that I was going to talk to him.

Kirsten:

I was about to have a coffee conversation with Phil, who I miss desperately.

Kirsten:

And because of that, it was, "I get to talk to him.

Kirsten:

It will be so cool."

Kirsten:

And because of that, my face was more open.

Kirsten:

My color was different.

Kirsten:

My sternum was up, my shoulders were back, my posture was up.

Kirsten:

It was more ready to go.

Kirsten:

And that was before you turn the camera on, so when you first are

Kirsten:

seen, you have an open, welcoming, expressive face, that is something

Kirsten:

other than, "Welcome to the webinar.

Kirsten:

We're going to start in a few minutes."

Kellie:

Woo.

Kirsten:

"Um, go ahead and, uh, get your coffee and, and a snack if you want.

Kirsten:

We're going to be starting at like two minutes after the hour."

Kirsten:

Now, what I just mimicked was not a bad presenter.

Kirsten:

That was a bad presentation.

Kirsten:

There are very few bad presenters.

Kirsten:

To be a bad presenter takes one thing.

Kirsten:

If you do not care that there is an audience, you are a bad presenter.

Kirsten:

If you do not think about the fact that there's an audience,

Kirsten:

if you are not impacted in any way by the fact that there's an

Kirsten:

audience, you are a bad presenter.

Kirsten:

If you care and don't know how to interact with them, you're

Kirsten:

in inexperienced presenter.

Kirsten:

You're not a bad one.

Kellie:

And we are all learning, all the time.

Kirsten:

Yeah.

Kirsten:

And we've been doing this, we've been doing this a long time.

Kirsten:

We've been in the trenches a while.

Kirsten:

I've been a freelance speaker, trainer, hybrid, you name it,

Kirsten:

for, I think it's 25 years now.

Kirsten:

And when we started in January, when I formed the company and I pulled

Kirsten:

everybody in and we kind of formed our mission, it was around ongoing mastery.

Kirsten:

It was around, we are constantly growing.

Kirsten:

We are constantly learning.

Kirsten:

And I have some core skills that I'm pretty good at.

Kirsten:

I have a theater background.

Kirsten:

I have other things that I've done that give me some advantages,

Kirsten:

but I have a lot to learn.

Kirsten:

I will always have a lot to learn.

Kellie:

Other things that you've done, Kirsten, that give you

Kellie:

some experience for this work?

Kellie:

Do tell.

Kirsten:

Uh, so this is where I want you guys, if you can see my headshot, I

Kirsten:

am, and I'm going to wait until Kellie stops drinking so that she does not spit

Kirsten:

all over the microphone, I am I am the whitest of white women from Connecticut.

Kirsten:

That is who I am, and I was in a Near and Middle Eastern dance troupe

Kirsten:

for 25 years as a belly dancer.

Kirsten:

And I did Egypt folk dance and stage performance.

Kirsten:

And I'm tremendously thankful to my troupe.

Kirsten:

They were just, they're wonderful.

Kirsten:

They're amazing, fantastic people.

Kirsten:

And that was just a fantastic experience.

Kirsten:

One of the main things I learned from it was how to get out of my own way to learn.

Kellie:

Yeah, because sometimes your concern about your own performance

Kellie:

is the thing that is preventing you from giving a good performance.

Kellie:

And your concern about how you're doing it will prevent you from

Kellie:

learning how to do it better.

Kirsten:

Yeah.

Kirsten:

If you're able to practice it enough that you have the flexibility to

Kirsten:

relax in the moment, but still it being an energized state, but

Kirsten:

relax with power, that's the goal.

Kellie:

I used to, when I first started teaching, have such thoroughly

Kellie:

prepared notes, it was a bullet outline of the entire class session.

Kellie:

And if I missed a bullet point, it would be like a recording, and I

Kellie:

had to rewind my tape and go back.

Kellie:

And, and now I have literal two, three, maybe four bullet

Kellie:

notes per 90 minute class.

Kellie:

Because I know where I'm headed, and we'll figure out how we're

Kellie:

going to get there depending on how my students are doing that day.

Kellie:

But instead of having so much structure, I had to get out of my own way in

Kellie:

order to have a good class experience based on what happened that day.

Kirsten:

Now, I also did choreography.

Kirsten:

Now, if you are doing something where you need to stick to a structure, you

Kirsten:

definitely need to hit certain points in a certain order, that's fine.

Kirsten:

You can still breathe within that.

Kirsten:

You can still flex within that.

Kirsten:

Just because you're matching someone else's steps doesn't mean that you

Kirsten:

are rigid, doesn't mean you're locked.

Kirsten:

It, you, you, it's up to you, you know your worldview, you know your work view

Kirsten:

and what you are expected to be doing.

Kirsten:

So, you know whether or not you can do more freeform or more choreographed.

Kirsten:

But either way, you need to practice enough, and you need to

Kirsten:

prep enough, that you can then be present in the moment and deliver.

Kirsten:

Because a performance, a presentation, is a conversation.

Kirsten:

That's all it is.

Kellie:

And you can talk to your friends.

Kellie:

You're not shy when you're talking with your friends.

Kellie:

You're having a conversation with people you want to hear from.

Kirsten:

So even if you are introverted, that doesn't mean you can't do the work.

Kirsten:

It just means that you have different ways of recharging before and after the work.

Kirsten:

It's a very different thing.

Kirsten:

Anybody can do the work if they want to.

Kirsten:

And we can help you with that.

Kirsten:

One of the ways we want to help is by introducing people to the community.

Kirsten:

So in the show notes is a link to the LinkedIn Ongoing Mastery community.

Kirsten:

And this is an open space for anybody who is, wants to work on this

Kirsten:

stuff, wants to know more about it.

Kirsten:

We're going to be offering free resources, we're going to be offering paid resources,

Kirsten:

all of that, and welcoming people into the ongoing mastery lifestyle, essentially.

Kirsten:

I think that's it for today.

Kellie:

That's a good chunk as we're thinking about fears of

Kellie:

public speaking and not just telling people to get over it.

Kirsten:

Yeah.

Kirsten:

So here's the last thing I'm going to leave you guys with.

Kirsten:

In the comments, what is your fear around public speaking?

Kirsten:

Are you an experienced speaker?

Kirsten:

Are you not an experienced speaker?

Kirsten:

Are you somebody that is worried about getting the material

Kirsten:

delivered in exactly the right way?

Kirsten:

Or are you worried about getting the material out at all?

Kirsten:

Let us know.

Kirsten:

And we'll see you next time.

Kellie:

Cheers.

Kirsten:

Thank you for joining us for Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking,

Kirsten:

the podcast for everyone who wants to work on their own skills and lift up others.

Kirsten:

If you enjoyed this episode, continue the conversation on our

Kirsten:

Ongoing Mastery LinkedIn group.

Kirsten:

The link is in the shownotes.

Kirsten:

Share the love on social media and tell your friends about the podcast.

Kirsten:

Be sure to catch our next episode

Kellie:

and hit the subscribe button.

About the Podcast

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Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking
Presentation and Speaking Skills for Business Leaders

About your host

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Kirsten Rourke