You may remember from your high school English class that when you talk about yourself (“I like ice cream”) you’re speaking in what’s called first person; when you talk directly to someone else (“You like ice cream”) you’re speaking in the second person, and when you talk about a third party (“He or she likes ice cream”), that’s called speaking in the third person.
What does this have to do with fear of public speaking?
Well, let’s say that you’re nervous about giving a speech, or about speaking in any public or high-stakes situation. One of the techniques that helps calm down this fear is called “self-talk” — literally, talking to yourself.
Talking to yourself helps distance you from feelings that may seem overwhelming. But when you do this, does it matter whether you tell yourself,
“I’ve got this speech covered!” [first person]
or (to use me as an example),
“Jezra, you’ve got this speech covered?” [second person]
I wouldn’t have thought so! But according to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the answer is: Yes, it matters, because talking to yourself as “you” creates more distance.
Public Speaking Anxiety Lessens with Distance
According to seven different studies with a total of 585 participants, the second person formulation — “YOU can do this!” — is more effective because it helps you distance yourself from your own fear.
Self-talk is an great way to create that distance, and now we know that it works even better when you speak to yourself in the second person —”You’re ready!” instead of “I’m ready” — and works best when you actually address yourself by name (“You’re ready, Jezra!”).
To Manage Fear of Public Speaking, Adopt a Public Speaking Avatar
Creating and “becoming” a Public Speaking Avatar will help you to hold fear at a distance, because your Avatar allows you to easily tap into (and, let’s face it, hide behind!) an image of your best, most powerful, and most confident self.
Your Avatar is, literally, a character that stands in for you — a character you send to do your public speaking! But whether he or she is inspired by a superhero, a highly-evolved leader such as Dr. King, or someone you know in real life, your Avatar is also a version of YOU. He or she is:
- You, with more confidence
- You, but more relaxed
- You, with more of whichever of your positive qualities you’d like to have more of — and less of the qualities you wish you didn’t have
And the best part of creating an Avatar is that you get to pick and choose what parts of yourself you’d like to highlight when you’re speaking in public…
And then you get to send your Avatar out to give your speech, do your job interview, or deliver that wedding toast you’re worried about!
Fight Your Fear of Public Speaking in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Person
The bottom line is that, whatever approach you choose (and choosing more than one approach can only expand your chances of success), keep fighting your fear of public speaking.
Tell yourself that “you” can do it… create and practice feeling like an Avatar version of your best and strongest self… and then take the leap and start speaking in public.
The world is waiting to hear what you have to say! Don’t keep us waiting any longer.