speaking infront

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Trust me, confidence is a practice not a pill

I usually ask people why they want to come on my course. Often they will talk about lacking confidence to present or to go for job interviews. This lack of confidence stops them from going for promotion, or asking their girlfriend to marry them, or speaking up at meetings or just getting on with things.

Participants on my course will describe various reactions to public speaking
1. Body; "When i speak my face always goes red", "My legs start to shake", "My voice just crumbles" "My heart is pumping too hard"

2. Mind;  "My mind just goes blank", "I just think too much" "'I'm scared", "I put myself down" "I want to die when people look at me"

With the combination of these feelings comes fantasies of running away perhaps. We are overwhelmed.  We don't trust our bodies or our brainsto cope with the situation. We have lost confidence in ourselves. We think we can't handle it. So we don't do it.

Some people have a secret wish that when they come on my course I will give them a magic pill to give them confidence. I know because they tell me afterwards - usually with a wry smile. They want it instantly. Other people seem to have it - why can't they have it? I apologise to them of course - magic is not my thing. So how DO we go about building confidence?

Forgive me if this smacks of school essays, but I think its really important to go back to the definition. Confidence literally means complete trust.

If I have confidence in you it means I completely trust you to do what you say.  Self-confidence therefore is about trusting ourselves that its ok to be us and that we can handle things.

However it might be more useful to define self-confidence as the practice of trusting ourselves more.  The more we trust ourselves the more confidence we have.  That might sound simplistic. But I really like simple things- they have the virtue of making it more possible for us to change. But simple isn't always easy. Confidence-building then is really a process or developing a habit rather than a magic instant pill. You start with one step. Lots of steps means we can build up "chunks of trust" (comfort zones) that we can handle thing well. My courses are full of small steps which help people to build trust in themselves but of course you can develop your own practices too. 

Finally talking about trust. Why the dog?  Well, Fido the dog's name comes from the Latin for "I trust". So Fido is indeed the trusty hound. Anyone know what the Latin is for frisbee?