Fear Public Speaking More Than Death? Coach To Oscar-Nominated Stars Shares Tips On Being A Confident Speaker


(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Thu 29 Feb 2024, 8:20 PM

Last updated: Thu 29 Feb 2024, 8:24 PM

As a five-year-old, when kids are out and about getting their hands dirty in sandpits, Dr Ehab Hamarneh had a different kind of mission. The mission was the following: to dig in the backyard of his kindergarten. For six months straight, he gathered his KG classmates and continued to dig relentlessly. What was he in search of, one may wonder.“As a little kid, whenever anyone asked me why I was digging the backyard of my kindergarten, I'd tell them, 'It's to find the devil,'” he recalls. For a little boy to have this thought, it may sound very dramatic but the uncanny experience kept playing up in Dr Hamarneh's mind long after his formative years.

“What was I really looking for? When I look back now, it wasn't the Devil I was trying to find. What I was really in search of was the truth. The divine, the light, God-whatever you want to call it,” he adds.“But I knew, to find that, you need to dig in the deepest, darkest places within yourself and face what comes out. It's a very physical metaphor. Many years later, I discovered that this is exactly what my life's work is.”

Originating from the quaint town of Madaba in Jordan, Dr Hamarneh, a renowned public speaking coach, has transcended boundaries to impact millions through his transformative teachings, both offline and online. An influential figure and founder of the 'Be You' movement, his work stands as a beacon of change in the Arab community.

How to be authentically yourself

Through his bestselling book Be You and highly sought-after courses in his academy, including the Authentic Speaker programme, he facilitates journeys of self-discovery and empowerment for a diverse clientele comprising celebrated singers, Oscar-nominated actors, influencers, and business magnates.

How to be authentically 'yourself', how to speak your 'truth'-these can often seem like arbitrary phrases that we frequently encounter in modern discourse. However, how does one truly achieve this way of being? Driven by a passion for purpose-driven leadership and ancient wisdom, Dr Hamarneh's work is aimed at deconstructing the frills around these notions through inspiring and empowering the next generation of Arab leaders and changemakers.

“When I teach people public speaking, I don't just instruct people to find the proper technique or vocal varieties. I ask them to go to the place where their voice becomes locked, where they experience shame, where speaking feels restricted, where they've faced judgement. These are the places you need to go to and liberate yourself,” he adds.“It's through this process that you discover your true voice and your authentic expression.”

Inside-out approach

His approach, he argues, is a little off-beat compared to other public speaking courses.“It's an inside-out approach. The places where you don't trust yourself, where you're judging yourself, where you're not able to say no. The places where you're afraid of hell. Those are the places you need to dig into, in order to find your highest possible expression,” says Dr Hamarneh.

With the fear of speaking in public, known medically as glossophobia, being extremely prominent in people, research indicates that some individuals may even find death as less frightening than public speaking.“Imagine this. The fear of public speaking may actually be more than the fear of death... and this is based on research. People would rather die than to be on stage (laughs).”

“But what I often tell people is that they're not actually afraid of public speaking, everyone knows how to speak. It's the fear of being judged. It's when people are watching us speak, that's when it becomes scary because the fear of judgement takes over. How will they perceive me? What will they think of me? What if I'm not good enough? It suddenly becomes all about me, me, and me. That's the Ego talking,” he explains.

Detachment from the 'self'

To be an impactful public-speaker, one needs to be free from the sense of Ego, Dr Hamarneh argues.“What we work on during the Authentic Speaker programme is to help people feel liberated from this fear of judgement-the judgement around their voice, their expression. Most of our work is to help people overcome so when they get on stage, they feel relaxed. That's when the natural style starts to be expressed. Then we take that style and teach them how to make it engaging through storytelling and different types of techniques.”

It's only when you're relaxed can you find your state of flow, he adds.“Contrary to popular belief, you don't lose yourself in the flow, you actually become more yourself,” says Dr Hamarneh.“You get closer to your authentic self because what you experience is having less of the critical voice, and more of you becoming the instrument.”

Most research done on the state of flow highlights that the part of prefrontal cortex in your brain responsible for making you hyper-conscious about yourself, focused on ego-consciousness, becomes less active, he highlights.“What begins to happen then is you become a channel for something to move through you and get tapped into higher intelligence,” says Dr Hamarneh.“You'd be surprised by the kind of words that come out of people's mouths when they speak in their flow. It's like you can sense the energy of the room and gauge what someone, somewhere really needs to hear from you.”

Detachment from the outcome

The primary thing that Dr Hamarneh's elaborate public-speaking course strives to achieve is to allow the speakers to become detached from the outcome.“When you go on stage to speak, don't go thinking as if it's a life or death situation. It's just an experience, it can be good or bad. Do not make it about you. You're not going on the stage be the star.” And that, according to the public-speaking coach, is“the ultimate transformation of a speaker”.

“It's when you realise you are not the star, the audience is the star. That's when your focus will automatically turn to the audience, and not how they will perceive you. This shift in the dynamic will enable you to feel a deep sense of freedom and relaxation when you're speaking in public spaces,” says Dr Harmaneh.

Discovering who you really are and what your centre is lies at the core of his public-speaking course.“It's the thing that makes you expansive, which makes you feel light-the expression of that is your true self.” But being yourself is“not a static, stagnant thing,” he adds.“It's about how much you're allowing the energy of life to move through you and be expressed through you. And the expression of that is constantly changing.”

Being yourself is directly proportional to the level of self-acceptance you have reached within yourself, he points out.“Everything you're judging about yourself-things that are 'bad', things you want to change about yourself-are the exact things that make you absolutely unique. If you fully accept yourself, rejection from the world will have no power over you. Society and culture can only reject you in places where you don't accept yourself.”

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