Public Speaking Anxiety: Ways to Soothe It and Become More Confident
Public speaking is a very important skill for potential business owners, business and life coaches, and basically everyone who’s job is to involve big masses of people for the business development, like raising investments or presenting new products, or those who bring completely new knowledge and ideas into the world and want to share them with other people.
If You Cannot Change Something, Change Your Attitude to It
Studying in high school, college, university requires a lot of public speaking in order to prepare future specialists for the demanding and highly competitive labour market. Students have to make speeches, defend their thesis in front of several examiners, publicly present their projects. On the one hand, it can be an embarrassing and frightful experience, but on the other hand, college can be a great sort of training center with the creation of real conditions: here you have your audience and visible results of the efforts in form of grades.
If you look at public speaking from this point of view, it may seem not so scary anymore. Remember, that good public speaking is more a skill, than a talent, and it can be developed. Do not give up on yourself thinking that you need only to be born for it and there is no other way to beat that overwhelming feeling of anxiety. In fact, that things are quite opposite: you need to practice and train yourself in order to become more confident in front of an audience.
Of course, there are those, who like some extra attention and feel quite comfortable speaking to many people. Be sure, however, that even they feel nervous, when they have to present something important and meaningful, that requires serious preparation, staying stick to the plan and speaking for long. Even professional public speakers with years of experience joke, that there are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.
Public speaking is inevitable in today’s society if you want to build a successful career and make your future business prosperous and income-producing. Stop seeing it as a big problem and try to look at it as a great possibility to improve yourself and become more skilled and professionally valuable.
Why Are We So Afraid of Public Speaking?
Fear is one of the basic human emotions, and like other basic emotions it takes roots in the prehistoric times, when it was dangerous for ancient wild humans to stand alone in an open place, fully exposed and without any weapon. That is why when we are on stage and dozens or even hundreds of eyes are staring at us, we subconsciously perceive this situation as potentially dangerous and cannot relax.
Very often while preparing the speech and then being on stage people are not afraid of speaking, but rather of being judged. As we are social creatures, it is important for us what others think about our appearance, what we are saying and how we are saying it. Often it is very difficult to abstract from the feeling of being judged and concentrate on a speech and the material of presentation.
Ways to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking
It can be a real challenge to gather yourself and finally calm down, when anxiety feels almost unbearable. There are, however, several techniques, used by professional speakers, that can help you to soothe yourself and feel more confident.
· Do not try to calm down
Fear and anxiety are strong emotions that stress out the organism making it produce more energy to cope with them. This is why we cannot sit quietly in one place, concentrate on the important stuff and think rationally. We get overwhelmed with the energy that fuels our fear, and what we have to do is not dampen it down, but to rechannel it into something positive. There is one step from love to hate, as we all know, meaning that feelings are mutable, and what is now anxiety can be successfully transformed into excitement, even if into a little bit nervous one.
So, do not try to calm down yourself and do not take any tranquillizing pills, because they will remove not only your nervousness, but all other feelings altogether either, making you a speaking zombie instead of a passionate speaker eager to share some useful information.
When you feel that anxiety starts raising, take several slow deep breaths. This may seem very banal, but this is what really helps. Mind and body cannot function separately. This means that you can influence your body through your mind and influence your mind through your body. Deep breaths slow down heartbeat and lower the level of stress. So, before you go on stage concentrate and take several slow breaths, repeat them few times and do not forget to breathe during public performance, making reasonable pauses after each point.
· Memorize the main parts of the speech
You need to know well the material you are going to present. Read it numerous times, memorize, even learn by heart the structure of your speech or presentation, its most important points and such patterns as introduction and ending. Many people do a big mistake by thinking that they will just quickly come up with some decent introduction when they start speaking. As a result, they just end up with several general, boring phrases at best or making long pauses not knowing what to say and only building up more anxiety and stress at worst.
Introductions and endings are very important. Introductions set the tone to the whole speech. Its purpose is to catch the interest of the audience, to win people’s attention. And endings are important, because they leave the last and most memorable impression about the whole performance. That is why these parts must be laconic, consistent and smart. It is also very important to remember to use transition phrases that help to link the ideas in your speech and pass smoothly from the previous point to the next one.
· Practice and rehears as if you are the worse who wants to be the best
Even if you feel that you know well the material of your presentation and remember the whole speech by heart, it is better to practice it out loud several times. If the speech part is managed well, you may still have some problems with your voice intonations or body movements, that can be wooden and distracting, revealing your tension and lack of confidence.
In order to avoid such embarrassment, try to create the conditions in which you will have to perform. Turn the lights down low, put on the clothes in which you are going to give the speech, stand up and speak it out loud from the beginning to the end several times, rehearsing all movements and intonations.
So, do not avoid public speaking just because you feel too anxious about it. Remember that more speeches you give, more experienced and self-confident you become. Good public speaking is a powerful tool, that makes you more comfortable around people, allows to reach a larger audience in shorter time, get followers and become successful.