Feeling judged and how it’s interconnected with fear of public speaking

Linda Coyle

Feeling judged and fear of public speaking

Feeling judged…this is such a common theme that comes up for people who lack confidence in speaking. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I can’t recall a single situation where it has not played some part! Even those who are more confident at speaking in public can still be challenged by this at times, particularly when stepping into a more challenging speaking situation.

Feeling judged and shame about speaking

Feeling judged is very closely linked to shame, and both are powerful feelings, and ones which cannot simply be ignored. In exploring the theme of feeling judged, I find that, like many things, the issue is not clear cut. We can be very effective and confident in some speaking situations and not in others. This can then lead to apparent contradictions within ourselves. Different scenarios I’ve encountered include:

The successful entrepreneur who comes across as confident, but is crippled inside by the thought of needing to speak to at a networking event.

The newly elected golf captain who can effectively negotiate deals at work, but is terrified of giving a speech at the annual captain’s dinner.

The project manager who can really connect with her team, but is passed over at management meetings.

The toastmaster who has won numerous competitions, given amazing, inspiring speeches, but is afraid to give an opinion at meetings.

These contradictions can add to further shame, as we feel that we should be just able to ‘get over it’. However, it’s not as simple as that. The thing is, that those reactions served a purpose in our past, to keep us safe when we needed it, but they no longer serve us well. Because these reactions are so ingrained, I find that it’s practically impossible to think our way out of it…something that many of my clients have tried before they’ve come to me. So what to do about it?

What can we do when we feel judged and shame around speaking

Well, for me, I look at two things, 1) what it feels like in the body, and 2) getting acquainted with my inner critic. In this article I’m honing in on the body piece.

So what do I mean when I say to look at what shame of feeling judged feels like in the body? It’s easy to use words to describe how we feel, but these can be deceptive, as we can simply be thinking in an abstract way about the feeling. What we need to do is get stuck into the physical experience. What does being judged or shame feel like to you? Perhaps it’s a hunching of the shoulders, a tightness in the chest, or a shaky, weak voice. Everyone has different experiences. It is not particularly pleasant to go there with these sensations, but go there we must, if we want to make lasting changes. Rather than make judgements about the feelings of shame, such as “It’s unpleasant,” instead, we can choose to be curious, “I notice a heaviness in the pit of my stomach.”

Allow yourself to feel the fear of speaking

How getting to know feelings help us to speak with confidence

As we get better acquainted with these feelings or sensations which associated with shame or feeling judged, they don’t feel quite so overwhelming. In fact, it reduces the power that they have over us. I liken it to surfing, if you’re fighting the wave, you’re on a losing battle, but if you go with it, it’s a whole lot easier, and fun (even if that does involve falling off the board, as I do quite spectacularly!) So, by allowing these sensations to be there, a transformation can happen. We become more present in ourselves, and more mindful. As a result, we can speak from a place of presence, one which comes across as passionate and confident…whether or not those physical sensations connected to feeling judged are there.

Feel the fear (in your body) and say it anyway

As we get better acquainted with these feelings or sensations, they don’t feel quite so overwhelming, and in fact, it reduces the power that they have over us. I liken it to surfing, if you’re fighting the wave, you’re on a losing battle, but if you go with it, it’s a whole lot easier, and fun (even if that does involve falling off the board, as I do quite spectacularly!) So, by allowing these sensations to be there, a transformation can happen. We become more present in ourselves, and more mindful. As a result, we can speak from a place of presence, one which comes across as passionate and confident…whether or not those physical sensations connected to feeling judged are there.

If that all sounds a bit difficult to apply, and you don’t quite know where to start, then you can access a body awareness audio file that I have on my website. It helps you to get more connected with your body, and only takes 2 minutes to listen to. Simply sign up to my mailing list and you can access that, along with other free resources.

I find it fascinating that by opening the door to our fear of speaking, we can be liberated from it. If you’d like to read more about how to overcome your fear of public speaking, check out Why just calm down is bad advice for nervous speakers.


This article was published by me on Linked In on 22nd May 2018.

Do you ramble when you’re nervous?

Linda Coyle

Do you talk too much when you’re nervous?

Rambling rose, rambling rose
Why you ramble, no one knows”  

                                 Nat King Cole






When we’re nervous about speaking, we’re likely to do one of two things, freeze and not say anything, or let the pendulum swing the other way and ramble. We say more, repeat ourselves, repeat ourselves a little differently, or go off on tangents. It’s possible that we may not really have noticed what we said in the first place! We talk faster, barely catching a breath, and may talk at a higher pitch than usual. Does any of this sound familiar?


So, why do we ramble when we’re nervous about speaking?

Ultimately this is linked to fear, or nervousness around the speaking situation. Why do we do this? I’ve been mulling over this question, and I think that there are three reasons.

We’re busy in our head: The more nervous we get about a speaking situation, the more we move into our head. Our head is racing, gets busy, and the words tumble around our heads and out of our mouths!

We’re afraid of silence: Silence is so scary! So, if in doubt, fill it!

We distract ourselves: If we keep talking it can distract us from how nervous we’re feeling. It also shields us from feeling judged by the listener. I’ve written more about feeling judged and how it’s interconnected with fear of public speaking, which you can read here.


Does it matter if we ramble when we’re nervous?

Well, yes, because, if we’re rambling:

  • We’re not listening
  • We’re not getting our key message out there.
  • We’re not being truly present in the moment.
  • We’re not connecting with our listener


What can you do about rambling when you’re nervous?

To me it comes back to two key things, being in our body and being in the moment…but actually, this could be narrowed down to one…being in our body. Because if we’re more aware of our body, we are in the here and now, and are present. When we’re more present, we can sit with our uncomfortable feelings…about silence, about what the listener thinks of us, and not go off into a spiral of panic, and we can be pleasantly surprised by our ability to cope!

So, how to do this? There are many ways. The simplest way that I find, is to simply stop, close my eyes, and scan down through my body, being curious and interested, noticing what I’m experiencing. Other people may find that taking a deep breath is really helpful.  Whichever method you choose, the key result is a quietening of the incessant chatter, busyness and panic in your head, and in that quietness you get clarity….and it’s hard to ramble when it’s quiet.

So, instead of rambling out loud take a moment to ramble through your body, connect with it, and you’ll find that it all feels a lot easier!


What are your thoughts?

Do you ramble or do you freeze…or perhaps a bit of both?!

When does this happen to you?


If you’re interested in the song ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ here’s a version by Chuck Berry:


Other posts about speaking when nervous which may interest you:

Feeling judged and how it’s interconnected with fear of public speaking.

Why our body is so important for successful speaking.

The gift of the gab: Is it something we’re born with?

Linda Coyle

The Collins dictionary says that if someone has the gift of the gab, they are able to speak easily and confidently, and to persuade people. While kissing the Blarney stone is an option, for those who don’t feel confident when it comes to speaking up, or are debilitated by glossophobia, it can feel like it’s either something you have or don’t have. But, that’s simply not true. While some people are comfortable speaking in any situation, most of us experience varying degrees of nerves when it comes to public speaking. As Mark Twain said, “There are only two types of speakers in the world- the nervous and the liars!”

The key is to figure out what’s getting in your way with speaking confidently and then know what to do. A big part of that is getting to know what you’re afraid of…it seems counter intuitive, but it is very much the case of ‘Feel the fear and say it anyway!’

Reframe nervous as excited

The interesting thing is that you don’t need to feel confident in order to speak confidently…and if we get stuck with that fantasy, (for want of a better word), then we’re bound to get stuck. One simple idea is to reframe fear as excited. This is but one practical idea which I’ve covered in my 5 day e-course on speaking with confidence.



I developed this e-course based on tried and tested tools and techniques that I’ve used with many of my clients who I’ve seen either one to one, or at my workshops. Click here to find out more about the e-course ‘Speak with confidence in only 5 days, and in honour of St. Patrick’s Day, and all things Irish, I’m offering a 25% discount on Simply type the code: PADDYS18 at the checkout. Offer is only available until 23rd March, so sign up quick!

Room to Improve…my Powerpoint presentation

Linda Coyle

How I improved my Powerpoint presentation

I had the privilege of being invited to present a workshop entitled ‘5 Take Aways to Get you Speaking with Impact’ for Kerry Businesswomen’s Network and LEO Kerry on Friday 23rd February at the Rose Hotel, Tralee. In preparation for the workshop, which was going to include a Powerpoint presentation, I pulled out the book ‘Awful Presentations’ by Barry Brophy, as I had listened to him speak at a Women’s Inspire Coffee morning back in December 2017, and subsequently bought his book.


Death by powerpoint- Text heavy powerpoint presentations!

It’s funny because I would have felt that I’m not too text heavy in my presentations, and that I use slides to assist my talk, rather than being reliant on them. However, reading through Barry’s book, I realised that I still had plenty to learn, and so I did a complete overhaul of my slides, with a focus on eliminating any unnecessary text and instead portraying things visually. It’s a bit like when you start doing something and then you can’t go back, so despite the fact that there were several points where I thought, “No more, making this presentation visual is too much like hard work,” and  “I have no idea how to make this Powerpoint presentation visual,” I’d take a deep breath and keep going. Often it was in the moments when I stopped thinking about it, an idea would come to me.

The other key piece of advice that I took on board was having the outline of the presentation in a visual format, with your own symbols/images/colours to represent different aspects of it, such as lecturing, group discussion, group work, with just key words for reminders….So I found my presentation notes resembled an interesting form of hieroglyphics! (Some would argue that my handwriting typically could be hieroglyphics given its legibility!)

So like any good up-do show, here are a few before and after images!


Re-frame nervous as excited: Original slide


Reframe nervous as excited: Revised slide




The difference between feeling nervous and excited about speaking



So, a big thank you to Barry Brophy for a great book, and for changing the way I do my presentations…even if it places quite a stretch on my creative skills!

Other articles which may interest you:

Why (just) calm down is bad advice for nervous speakers

7 quick tips when speaking to a crowd

Reflections on ‘being present’ at Women’s Inspire Network Conference #WIN17Dublin, Oct. 10th

Linda Coyle

Speaking at Women’s Inspire National Event Oct. 2017

The #WIN17Dublin event by the Women’s Inspire network was a truly inspiring meeting of positive energy, support and expertise from a wide range of women and men…and I felt very privileged to be part of it! In this post, I’m reflecting on two moments of presence during the day. The first was a body awareness experience that I led during my talk on ‘Public speaking: Feel the fear and say it anyway’. A key focus of my talk was about how important it is to connect with our body in order to speak with confidence. The irony is that we need to tune into sensations within our body which to our judging mind can feel quite unpleasant in order to come across as confident.

So, what did I do? I talked us through a body scan, in which we started at the top of our body and slowly scanned down through our body…just noticing…observing…not judging…What was amazing was as we did this exercise, the energy in the room shifted. It’s hard to describe in words, but it’s like everything ‘dropped’ and there was a sense of stillness, which continued to linger in the air for a couple of seconds after I had finished speaking. While I’ve done this exercise numerous times before, in one to one sessions and with small groups, I’ve never done it on such a grand scale, and the energy shift was palpable. Becoming present in our bodies is great for us in its own right, it is also something that we can apply to day to day situations, particularly situations which we find challenging, such as public speaking, or dealing with a conflict.

Having spoken in the morning, I had the rest of the day to take in a range of amazing speakers, as well as dip into the Chill zone led by Dolores Andrew-Gavin (@irishhealthhour). I particularly enjoyed the chance to experience being in a musical moment during a workshop with Catherine Dunphy (@magicofmusic), as she creatively engaged us in making music….it didn’t matter where on the scale you saw yourself in terms of your musicality, all scales were welcome! You can catch a glimpse of it below!

Finally,  I’m really grateful for all the positive feedback that I got from my presentation, and that people were easily able to apply what they had learned…There were several comments of feeling ‘excited’ or even, ‘really really excited!’ about speaking. What’s all that about? Read more here! Also, thank you to Lisa Kelly (@lisa_myapp_ie)  for including me as one of her favourite 4 from the conference.







Why “(Just) calm down” is bad advice for nervous speakers.

Linda Coyle

Saying, “Calm down,” to a nervous speaker is just not helpful!


Many people find public speaking difficult, even terrifying, and given the choice, would rather not have to talk, but unfortunately (or perhaps more accurately fortunately!) we sometimes need to do something, even though it terrifies us! Typically people feel nervous when faced with a speaking situation. While we may experience nervousness differently in our body, it’s something that we can all relate to. a feeling which we can all relate to. Symptoms of nerves when we’re about to speak include sweaty palms, racing heart beat, tight chest, dry mouth and/or nausea. So how do you cope with these anxious feelings when you’re feeling nervous about speaking? Advice people hear, be it from others or within their own heads is to “(Just) calm down.” I don’t agree! Watch my video to find out more!

I’ve three problems with the advice, “Calm down”:

1) It doesn’t work: If you’ve ever tried to think yourself into a calm state by saying ‘calm down’, then let me know! Frequently people tell me that they try to tell themselves to calm down, but that they still struggle with presenting, and/or their voice shakes.

2) You’re seeing nerves as a problem: Feeling nervous is energy flowing through our body from adrenaline. Adrenaline energises us and gets us ready for action. We want this energy so that we can speak with passion and enthusiasm.

3) You’re fighting against your body. Our bodies have such wisdom, and ultimately if we fight against our body we lose. Instead, listening to the internal signals that we’re getting and accepting them can empower us to move forward, rather than be stuck in a state of fear and dread.

So, the solution is to embrace these nerves as energy that’s in your body and let it flow. Sounds great in theory, but how do we do this? In my workshops I share different ways in which you can learn to do this. One simple technique is to re-frame it from nervous…to excited. This technique was researched by Alison Wood Brooks (2014) who found that people who  said to themselves, “I’m excited” before carrying out one of three tasks- karaoke singing, public speaking and Maths, performed better than those who said, ‘I’m nervous’ or who said nothing at all. She called this ‘reappraising anxiety as excitement’. So, the next time you need to give a presentation, focus on feeling excited, and let me know how you get on!

Other articles related to speaking with confidence which may interest you:

Lisa Kelly’s review of her top 4 speakers at Womens Inspire Network Conference in October 2017. I was delighted to be included in her list!

Women’s Inspire Network National Event, Self-care in business, 10th October 2017

Linda Coyle

I’m delighted to be a speaker at the forthcoming Women’s Inspire Network National Event, ‘Self-care in business‘ on Tuesday 10th October at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin Airport. The tile of my talk is, ‘Feel the fear and say it anyway!’ I’m looking forward to meeting lots of inspiring women…and the occasional man!

Speakers at self care in business, Women’s Inspire Network


© [2018] Linda Coyle, Speak Brilliantly. All rights reserved.