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Panic Attacks Versus Shyness

May 21, 2008
I am waiting my turn to go on stage, I have been asked to a group of local merchants about the importance of having an online presence. This is a wonderful opportunity for exposure. This is the kind of thing that can catapult my business!

Exposure; come to think of it I will literally be exposed. I will be standing in front of a group of strangers talking and additionally, I may have to answer questions. What was I thinking when I accepted this invitation?

I am now wondering if I am really prepared for this, I have always considered myself a shy person regardless of the fact that I am outspoken at times. Now I am very nervous, what will they think of me, do I look all right, and do I have the knowledge needed to make this event a success for me? Those thoughts and many others are racing through my head.

If you can identify with the above feelings you are probably a shy person. As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon for people that are not shy to be intimidated about public speaking. A person that suffers with panic attacks may experience similar feelings to a degree but also much more anxiety. Keep reading for an example of the same experience as described by a panic attack sufferer.

I do not know how I got trapped into this, I must have been crazy to accept the invitation. I know it may be a good business move but is this stress worth it? What if I have a panic attack while I am on stage? What will they think if I have to suddenly run off the stage or even run out of the building? My hands are sweating and my heart rate is getting too fast. I can not do this! How can I get out of this now?

If you more strongly identify with the second scenario then you have probably gone through the trauma of at least one panic attack. It is true that panic attacks can have a huge impact on the life of the sufferer. Declining a speaking engagement could be detrimental to a business. On the other hand what would happen if one experienced a panic attack while on stage?

Believe me, I do understand the feelings. I used to suffer with panic attacks on a somewhat regular basis. I also taught classes at a large hospital so I really can relate. But I also had the fortunate experience of attending a class at my university directed at teaching individuals how to speak in public. My instructor told wonderful stories about his good, not so good, and terrible speaking experiences.

One tip that he shared is the fact that during a speech it is acceptable to pause. He said a pause of up to 10 seconds is fine, the pause will add emphasis to the last point. The audience will have an opportunity to absorb what has been and to anticipate what will be said. I always found those points comforting because a pause gives you time to regroup your thoughts and/or to escape from negative thoughts and feelings.

He also said that if you are giving a speech and feel you need to get the focus off of you for a short period of time you can ask the audience a question, or let some the members express their views about a related topic. Another suggestion was to have a time for introductions. All of these tactics can provide you a little space of time to get things under control in your mind.

Another tip was using the anxiety that you feel to deliver a more forceful message. Simply accept the fact that speaking will bring about some anxiety and use it to your advantage. Your speech will be more effective.

This instructor also said he had a lucky coin that he always had with him during a speaking engagement. Some people have lucky rocks and other items. If you have a small item that brings you comfort then consider using it in that way.
About the Author
To learn more about panic attacks and other topics of interest to women of all ages visit:
Debbie Allen is a writer, internet marketer and personal coach.
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