Acting : Why do people have a fear of public speaking and what you can do about it by Stav Spyrou

Stav Spyrou

Why do people have a fear of public speaking and what you can do about it

“According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy” - Jerry Seinfeld

Of course Jerry Seinfeld was exaggerating for comedic effect, but in all the years since it's been said, it still holds true. Our fear of standing up in front of a group whether it be public speaking, standing on stage ready to perform or walking in for an audition is so great that we fear it more than death,

So what causes the fear?

Fear of public speaking is caused by BELIEFS

>>What is a BELIEF?

A belief is our view of how we see the world, how we interpret the world around us and our thoughts, actions, feelings and behaviours are in line with what we believe..

Likewise, a LIMITING BELIEF is a belief that limits our world view, therefore is one that influences our thoughts, actions, feelings and behaviours.

So if we have a limiting belief, “mistakes and failures are bad'',in order to compensate for having this belief, what we may do is:

- avoid work where there is a possibility where we could fail or make a mistake,

- continuously checking and over-checking our work,

- beating ourselves when missing a word, or a line in an audition

- trying to do make sure that everything is done perfectly

>>Why are LIMITING BELIEFS important when it comes to fear of public speaking?

What are the consequences to having a limiting belief, such as mistakes and failures are bad, especially when it comes to auditioning/being on stage/performing.

- We may not give ourselves the freedom to explore our character, we may stay within our boundaries that we have set for ourselves

- We may play it small, and not go for that bold choice that we have worked on when we audition

- We may panic when we miss a line on stage, which in turn will take us out of the moment

- We may miss moments of pure connection, moment-to-moment work, because we are so focused on not messing up

>> But I don’t know what my limiting beliefs are, HOW DO I FIND MY LIMITING BELIEFS?

Here is a super easy process to find your own beliefs in your way:

1. Close your eyes & imagine you are about to audition in front of a casting director or you are about to step up on stage, ready to perform

(Note: make sure you are imagining a future situation and not something that has happened in the past)

2. Notice the feelings that are coming up for you - this is going to be some on some level of fear; from apprehension, anxiety, all the way to terror

3. Get in touch with the feeling that’s coming up for you

4. Notice the thoughts that are coming up for you, related to your feeling

5. Write down the thoughts that are coming up for you - some examples will be; I can't do this, what are others going to say, I better not mess this up, etc

6. Ask yourself - what must I believe to have these thoughts ?

- Here are some examples and possible beliefs:

I can't do this >> BELIEFS: I’m not capable; I’m not good enough

What are others going to say >> BELIEFS: People aren’t interested in what I have to say; Its dangerous to have people focus on me

I better not mess this up >> BELIEFS: The way to survive is to be in control; What makes we worthy is doing things perfectly

Try it out, give it a go, and see what beliefs are holding you back, from performing as your best, true, authentic self.


Stav Spyrou

Claude Gagne Death and Taxes are the only two sure things in life is from The Cobbler of Preston by Christopher Bullock (1716)

I don't understand your Oscars sentence - can you expand on that please?

Stav Spyrou

Claude Gagne I dont know what you will be like at the Oscars. However the purpose of this post is to show that fear is not inherent in public speaking - it stems from our limiting beliefs.

So when asked to imagine a future situation, imagine a situation that you've been in, that usually causes fear for you, whether its auditioning, or standing up on stage ready to perform

Your oscars example doesn't work, because that's not something that is familiar to you.

Hope this clarifies things for you!

Karen "Kay" Ross

I'm one of those weird people that LOVES public speaking, but if I'm supposed to say something specific, then I get nervous. Any time I have public speaking within confined parameters, then I do feel pressure - thus, I rock as an in-class teacher, but I struggle with teaching online. BUT, practice is absolutely the key for me. Thanks for this question!

Tasha Lewis

Here is a technique I gave one of my students who was afraid to do a presentation facing the class. I told her to do it facing backward. She did a hair commercial. She stood with her back to us. Swung her hair from side to side. She did a fantastic job and I gave her an A. The only person who knew about her fear was me. And of course all of you now that I'm using it as an illustration without her name.

Stav Spyrou

Karen "Kay" Ross awesome that you love public speaking - so cool :)

What is great is that you've narrowed down for you where you feel nervous, when you are saying something specific.

So imagine that same thing happening again (closing your eyes helps) and notice the feeling of nervousness come up for you. Related to the feeling of nervousness, notice the thoughts. These thoughts will point to beliefs that are coming up for you

Stav Spyrou

Tasha Lewis fantastic that you gave your student a technique that helped her - that's the main thing.

However, it would be great to ask one of your students (the one that had the fear), to use the exercise that was written in the post above, and see what comes up for her, what thoughts are coming up, related to her fear. To see whats underneath, what is causing that fear - usually unwanted beliefs.

Tasha Lewis

Great advice but the class was taught a while back.

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