Public Speaking

Is everything we do and behave like directly linked back to our tribal instincts? Evolution has changed some human characteristics over the last 4 million years but some internal reactions still remain the same.

Between the Army and adrenaline sports I’ve done throughout my life public speaking is high on the things I fear the most. So much so that this week I attended my first of five public speaking workshops run by “Improve your public speaking” in Melbourne.

I believe having this skill can have huge benefits in everyday life and in the workplace. You never know when teaching a group people or presenting to a class will be required. My goal is to not fear public speaking but to maybe even enjoy it a little. Without the anxious thoughts weighing me down means my mind is free to concentrate on other projects and also be less stressed.

Some interesting things have already started to make me look at speaking a different light. The main aspects I took away from the first class were structures, anxiety and breathing.

Jumping straight to anxiety the biggest factor that seems most relevant to me can be caused by a number of things, such as; Bad previous experiences, worrying thoughts, fear of humiliation, fear of brain freeze and situational stress (Improve your public speaking, 2015). Understanding why some of these emotions and thoughts occur was a great eye opener which helps me to understand why we feel the way we do before speaking.

The common anxious feeling; the fight or flight response is our bodies reacting to a physiological reaction often caused when we sense danger or a threat. This pumps adrenaline around our bodies, speeding up our heart rate. Often signs of this can be hands shaking or dizziness. This relates back to our tribal instincts where speaking in front of a tribe would kick this reaction in for either protection or strength. Once I understood this was engrained in our body’s allowed me to relax a little, and start to look at ways of dealing and preparing for speaking.

This is where breathing and structure comes into play. By having a structure to follow i.e.: the three point: Intro, body and conclusion allows you to keep track of where you are at and keeps the audience following along. Remember the audience doesn’t care about you; they only want to know what they can benefit from your speech. So if they can’t follow along the audience won’t benefit therefore they will stop listening.

When our group of six were asked “should your stomach area expand out or suck in when breathing” three people said “suck in.” This goes to show that many people still don’t understand the fundamentals of something we have done a million times. When our bodies go into the fight of flight mode our breathing becomes shallower. This gives more oxygen to the heart so more adrenaline can be pumped around preparing us for danger. I strongly suggest to Google “breathing for anxiety” but in a nutshell it’s breathing in through the nose, making sure your stomach area expands, then releasing through the mouth making sure the exhale is longer than the inhale.

Improve Your Public Speaking. (2015). Retrieved from

The fight or flight response: Our body’s response to stress. (2015). Retrieved from