On the Couch with Jasminda



Do you have a pressing problem, annoying anxiety or community conundrum? Jasminda Featherlight, our resident roving Agony Aunt, is here to help. Jasminda will be responding to questions from our FOUR News Of The Area papers on a rotating basis. Send your concerns to Jasminda care of [email protected] and include your title, initials and suburb.

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Dear Jasminda,

From time to time I have to speak in public. It fills me with fear. How can I get over this?
Mrs LQ, Raymond Terrace

Dear Mrs LQ,

Oh, I hear you. There you are, standing in a public place, an audience in front of you, your heart pounding, your hands shaking, your face blushing. There are no doubt times when those symptoms could be desired – meeting a new partner, for instance. When it comes to speaking in front of a crowd, however, these are not desirable feelings, because they could be followed by an inability to speak, and then an inability to run from the stage and bury your head in the nearest potted palm because you are dying from humiliation. Instead, you stand there and continue ranting, knowing that the audience is not listening to your words, because they are too busy watching you tremble.

The positive in all this is that the audience is not there to throw bananas at you, or laugh at your flaws, or scoff at your words, or judge your private life (unless you are Barnaby Joyce over the past few weeks). No, they are there because they want to hear what you have to say.

There are some ways to calm down, which may be useful. Some people swear by the technique of imagining the audience members with no clothes on. I feel that this could only make you more nervous, so don’t try that one. Focusing on a friend in the audience is always a useful tactic. Ask a friend to sit near the front, so you can do this. Drinking beforehand is not a good idea. It may calm your nerves, but it may also slur your words. Deep breathing can assist, as long as you don’t go too far and hyperventilate. Rehearsing your speech in front of a small audience can also help to alleviate your anxiety, but the family dog won’t cut it.

Best of luck, Mrs LQ. Given public speaking is often listed as the number one fear, take some solace from the fact that you are certainly not alone.

Carpe diem,

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