I wrote about what stress is, why we are stressed and why we need it here. This time we will deal with the physiology of stress to understand what is happening to our body in a situation interpreted by our brain as a threat.
Fear of public speaking
Often, my clients describe their reactions to stress as something unpleasant, e.g. they dry up in their throats, they can’t remember anything or their hands shake while holding the microphone. For an unconscious performer, this situation can be frightening, because we do not have full control over our body, and this generates fear.
What is happening to my body?
Potential stress responses:
• The blood vessels in the brain and internal organs narrow
• The pupils dilate so that we can see farther
• Our heart beats faster and harder
• We stop feeling hungry
• Blood pressure increases
• Dry mouth
• Shallow breathing
• Shaky hands
• Reduction of digestion, pancreas activity, and sex drive1
These reactions are the most common. What are your stress responses? Remember your last public appearance and think about how stress manifests in your body.
Reaction to stress at various levels
There are 4 levels of stress response:
Stress scale. How stressful are the events in your life?
How do you check your level? Select events that concern you from the list, save points and calculate their total sum.
1. Score above 300 – risk level for serious deterioration of health 80%
2. Score between 150 and 300 – risk level for serious deterioration of health 50%
3. Result below 150 – low risk of serious health impairment
What part are you in? Count your points and answer this question.
• Death of a close family member (100)
• Death of a close friend (73)
• Divorce (73)
• Marriage separation (65)
• Staying in prison (63)
• Injury or illness (53)
• Getting married (50)
• Dismissal from work (50)
• Reconciliation with a conflicted spouse (45)
• Retirement or disability retirement (45)
• Illness in the family (44)
• Pregnancy (40)
• Sexual trouble (39)
• Family expansion (39)
• Starting a new job (39)
• Changes in financial income (38)
• Change of profession (36)
• Increase in marital conflicts (35)
• Mortgage over $ 10,000 (31)
• Message about the need to repay a larger debt or loan (30)
• Change of responsibility in professional life (29)
• Children leave the family home (29)
• Quarrels and clashes with relatives of the spouse (29)
• Increase effort to accomplish a task (28)
• Beginning or end of work of spouse (26)
• Beginning or leaving school (26)
• Changes in the standard of living (25)
• Changes in personal habits (24)
• Clashes with the boss (23)
• Changes in working conditions or the immediate surroundings (20)
• Change of flat (20)
• Change of school (20)
• Changes in spending free time (19)
• Changes in religious practices (19)
• Changes in social habits (18)
• Mortgage or debt under $ 10,000 (17)
• Changes of sleep habits (16)
• Changes in the frequency of family gatherings (15)
• Changes in eating habits (15)
• Vacation (13)
• Christmas (12)
• Minor violation of legal provisions (11) 3
As for public speaking, for some it may be at a very high level, e.g. 60, for others at a low level, e.g. 20.
How to deal with stress? Check out my previous article.
1. J. Kalat, Biologiczne podstawy psychologii, Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa 2006, s. 364
2. R. Gerrig, P. Zimbardo, Psychologia i życie, Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa 2006, s. 400
Hello. Welcome to my blog. I work as a public speaking trainer, mentor and head os speakers for TEDx Warsaw and I am certified coach at PCC level. I also help, among others, lawyers, vocalists, actors, lecturers and business people in preparation for their speeches in front of hundreds of people in the audience, as well as in conducting small meetings or presentations.
My professional path has led me through many years of music education, but also SGH and psychological studies. As the only Polish woman I performed in the Cuban musical “Conoce mi Cuba”. For many years I worked on controlling the stage fright that kept me awake at night. I have always wondered how to manage the internal critic, not to worry about the opinion of others, and how to build a real sense of confidence on stage. Now I know the answer. Recently, I have given countless interviews, which made me aware of the importance of confidence in front of the camera.