But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11, NKJV
Public speaking. Just saying the words makes my mouth go dry, my heart start racing, and my stomach begin knotting up. Or put me in front of important people, and my mind goes blank. Good ideas that I had carefully thought through and meticulously organized for the big presentation skitter away like a nicely raked pile of leaves in an autumn wind. From professional speaker, musician, or performer to novice, we all get stage fright now and again. We start breathing hard, the sweat pops out, and the blood pressure rises.
My guess is that it won’t really help to explain what is going on in your body. Those reflexes are automatic (actually autonomic) and most difficult to control through rational thought, processes. The sympathetic nervous system is firing all out, putting you in top shape for the fight or flight response, and at this point flight appears to be the preferable option. But there is too much at stake. You have to get up and make your speech, sing your song, or nail the landing of your full twisting triple back-flip.
Is there a remedy for performance anxiety? The good news is that several things do help. Perhaps the first thing to do is practice. Compose the speech well ahead, learn the music, get all the fine points down carefully, then rehearse and practice again and again. Fear derived from not being ready is normal and actually a good thing. Respond to that fear with careful preparation. Next, I like to think of the presentation as a fun opportunity. Imagine drawing energy from the eager faces of those in the audience. Good presentations are exhilarating, enjoyable events. Another strategy is to put the presentation in its proper context. How important is it, really? What would happen if you really blow it? Would your mother still love you? Would God still love you? Yes, you want to do well, to put your best foot forward. But this one thing won’t make or break you. Finally, for me, the clincher is that this life is not about me anyway. My days here will be measured, not by my success, but by how I bring honor and glory to God. He has given me the talents and the skills. How am l using them to honor Him?
Lord Jesus, You even said that the words You spoke while here on earth were not Yours but that they came from the Father. May I connect so that I can bring You glory also.