Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Like most things in life, presentations are unlikely to be perfect and there are always ways you can improve. When you get feedback from others and reflect on your own performance, it is important that you understand this and give yourself a break. Think about the positives and what went well, and learn from any mistakes or elements that you feel unhappy with.
Banish Public Speaking Nerves And Present With Confidence
I’ve been doing a lot of presenting recently, and I have no problem admitting that it’s tough. For those not born with natural eloquence, public speaking can be remarkably nerve-racking.
We can’t all deliver the next Gettysburg Address, but there are several small things you can do prior to your next big presentation that will help calm your nerves and set you up for optimal oration.
1. Practice. Naturally, you’ll want to rehearse your presentation multiple times. While it can be difficult for those with packed schedules to spare time to practice, it’s essential if you want to deliver a rousing presentation. If you really want to sound great, write out your speech rather than taking chances winging it.
Try to practice where you’ll be delivering your talk. Some acting strategists suggest rehearsing lines in various positions-standing up, sitting down, with arms open wide, on one leg, while sitting on the toilet, etc. The more you mix up your position and setting, the more comfortable you’ll feel with your speech. Also try recording your presentation and playing it back to evaluate which areas need work. Listening to recordings of your past talks can clue you in to bad habits you may be unaware of, as well as inspiring the age-old question: “Is that what I really sound like?”
10. Exercise. Exercise earlier in the day prior to your presentation to boost endorphins, which will help alleviate anxiety. Better pre-register for that Zumba class!
Why Do We Have This Fear
Let’s discuss how this fear comes about and why so many of us fear speaking in public. Understanding the root cause will hopefully help you deal with it better.
In the book, “Confessions of a Public Speaker” by Scott Berkun, he suggests that our brains identify the following four conditions as extremely bad for survival:
- Standing alone
- In an open territory with no place to hide
- Being without a weapon
- In front of a large crowd who are staring at you
These conditions made sense during the early years of humans. Being alone, or without a weapon for example, could have been very dangerous with wild animals and other fierce tribes nearby.
There conditions happen to all be experienced during public speaking. Youâre often alone on a stage, open to the audience who are looking at you, without a weapon and with nowhere to hide .
So what exactly can you do to gradually overcome the fear of public speaking? Here are key tips that you can apply before, during and after the speech.
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Nervous About The Audience
It is the audience, and the potential for negative evaluation from that audience, that can make us feel anxious. And those listening can be physically or virtually present.
This brings us to the rather awkward situation of speaking to rows of little boxes on a screen in a video hook-up. Not only does this set-up limit broader non-verbal cues, but it also restricts general banter between participants.
On the plus side, this can make sessions more time-efficient, but it does tend to make conversations more stilted.
A perceived need to be visible is a contested area in online delivery. In educational settings, those who support cameras on for everyone suggest it helps to replicate usual classroom conditions, encourages discussion and ensures students are actually in attendance .
But it is important to consider the rationale behind making any feature mandatory. Participating via a video app is not the same as a live setting.
For a start, speakers rarely see themselves when talking to others. As a lecturer, seeing myself onscreen while speaking with a class can be distracting, especially when trying to look directly at the camera lens to maximise eye contact.
What Causes Speaking Anxiety
There are a number of reasons that a person may experience anxiety about public speaking. Before you learn how to manage it, it is important to realize exactly what causes this type of anxiety.
These are just a few examples of course. Anxiety about bullying or mocking can cause embarrassment that is strong enough to affect public speaking. Also being in situations like having to speak to a crowd of people who are of a higher status than you , having to present new ideas, or when you know you are being evaluated based on your performance, can all impact the degree of anxiety you have about public speaking.
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Tip #: Speak In Public
I know it sounds crazy. How could speaking in public help you overcome your fear of speaking in public? Have you ever heard of exposure therapy? Its a behavioral practice that doctors use to help people get over their fears.
Its based on the idea that avoiding what youre afraid of to reduce feelings of fear is a short-term solution, and can actually end up harming you in the long run by making your fear worse.
So what they do is they gradually expose the individuals to the cause of their fear in a safe environment.
This helps the individuals affirm that there is no reason for their fear, and makes it easier for them to manage it.
This tip is essentially the same as exposure therapy. Youre afraid of speaking in public, so to overcome that, speak in public more often!
But the key for this to work is to expose yourself gradually and in a safe environment. Start out small. Present something or give a speech in front of people you trust, maybe your family or friends.
Once you become comfortable with that, gather a larger audience for your presentation. Let yourself face your fear at your own pace.
Theres no need to rush yourself because what you want to do is to gain positive experiences with public speaking.
Only move up a tier when you feel that youre ready, so you dont accidentally undo all the progress youve achieved.
The Fear Of Public Speaking Is Worse Than The Fear Of Death
Evolution psychologists believe there are primordial roots. Our prehistoric ancestors were vulnerable to large animals and harsh elements. Living in a tribe was a basic survival skill. Rejection from the group led to death. Speaking to an audience makes us vulnerable to rejection, much like our ancestors fear.
A common fear in public speaking is the brain freeze. The prospect of having an audiences attention while standing in silence feels like judgment and rejection.
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Thirty Ways To Manage Public Speaking Anxiety
Select a topic of interest to you
Prepare carefullyknow your material
Practicerehearse your talk with a friend
Know your audience
Challenge negative thinkingmake 3 x 5 cards of positive thoughts or have friends write out inspirational thoughts for you.
Expect positive reactionsexpect success!
Know the roomif unfamiliar, visit your speaking space before you talk.
Employ aerobic exercise strategiesdaily aerobic exercise can cut anxiety by 50%.
Eat for successfoods containing tryptophan and complex carbohydrates tend to calm the body. Eliminate caffeine, sweets, and empty calories.
Sleep for successknow and get the number of hours of sleep you need for optimal performance.
The Day of the Presentation
11. Eat several hours before the talknot immediately before
12. Dress for successyour success! Dress comfortably and appropriately for the situation. Look your best
13. Challenge negative thinkingContinue positive thinking
14. If you need to, express your fears to a friend
15. Review 3 x 5 cards of inspirational thoughts
16. Practice your talk one last time
17. Go to the room early to ready equipment and your podium.
18. Exercise immediately before the talk to reduce adrenalin levels.
- Employ anxiety reduction techniques
- Deep, rhythmic breathing
19. Use the restroom immediately before the talk
20. Take a glass of water to the talk
The Presentation: A positive experience stemming from careful preparation!
21. Interpret anxiety symptoms as excitement
What Is Speaking Anxiety
For centuries, people have questioned their ability to speak in front of others. Its said the Roman orator Cicero turned pale and quaked before any speech he gave.
But it was in the 20th century that communication anxiety was studied in depth. It has been described by a number of different terms, including stage fright, unwillingness to communicate and communication apprehension.
Research suggests about one in five speakers experience high communication apprehension. This can make all speaking opportunities difficult.
Examples include speaking to a boss or teacher, contributing to a group discussion, or delivering a presentation. Public speaking anxiety is part of communication apprehension.
The prevalence of public speaking anxiety is well documented. It is complex , individual and unstable .
A focus on individual differences acknowledges that internal thoughts and feelings might not match external behaviour. For example, a speaker who appears disengaged may actually feel a lack of control.
It is a tricky phenomenon. Some people can feel nervous the moment a speaking task is announced and, on the day of presentation, may rate themselves as more nervous than what an audience observes.
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How To Give A Good Presentationwithout Anxiety Or Being Nervous
Palms sweating, forehead burning, lightheadedness, room spinning, choking on air. And you havent even hit the stage yet to give your presentation. Worse than that: youre probably a week out from the date of your upcoming presentation.
Gasp! How will you ever be able to give a good presentation like this?
If that sounds like your current worst-nightmare scenario, youre experiencing presentation anxiety. Which sucks, I know.
The good news? There are ways to fix it! In this article I’ll give you 14 ways to give a good presentation without suffering from anxiety.
But first lets establish some ground rules:
How To Avoid A Self
The reality of this situation, however, is quite different. Your audience is actually the most attentive they’ll be for your entire presentation. They are expectantbut they want you to succeed. Chances are, for instance, that no one is paying attention to how you’re using your arms. And nearly all your nervousness isn’t visible to your audience.
In other words, you’re doing fine! Woody Allen once said that 80 percent of success is just showing upand just by being here speaking, you’ve got that covered. So you can relax.
Easier said than done, huh?
Yet there are two tried-and-true ways you can avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy of a speech that starts out disastrously in that all-important opening when you’re most nervous. The first method has to do with your attitude, and the second utilizes a few simple skills.
Looking for a guide to great openings? You’ll find everything you need in my essential e-book for launching your presentations with clarity and impact. Learn the 5 speech tools you need to grab your audience and get them instantly engaged. It’s all in my practical e-guide, “How to Start a Speech.”
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Fear Stems From Public Speaking Anxiety
Plenty of things make people scared. They include, in no particular order, spiders, snakes, heights, and clowns. And then there is the fear of public speaking. This common fear is not about the words themselves, but rather the experience of having to say them.
Here at Throughline Group, weve discovered that for many presenters this fear quickly disperses once the initial jitters subside. A study conducted by Texas Christian University faculty members Amber N. Finn, Chris Sawyer, and Ralph Behnke found that speaking-related anxiety peaks for most speakers immediately before their speech begins and recedes after the first minute or so of talking.
For others, this fear leads to pervasive and persistent anxiety that results in avoidance of all public speaking situations. This can be a serious hindrance to career and personal growth.
For instance, perhaps you have a great idea but are too scared to bring it up in a meeting. Or you routinely let others take the lead during sales presentations.
In the sections to come, we offer information and resources to help you better understand the reasons this fear can become pervasive and how it manifests itself, as well as how to get over fear of public speaking and even use it to your advantage.
Focus On The Beginning And Ending
Your opening sets the tone for your speech and your closing is what you will leave your audience with. Youâll have a few seconds when you start to capture the attention of the audience and prevent them returning to their mobiles.
So you need to make it good. Try starting with an attention grabbing statement, statistic or interesting quote.
Rather than leaving the opening and ending to chance, write and practice them over and over again. What you can do is memorize certain sentences or phrases you think are key to your speech and note down bullet points of other information you want to include in these sections.
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Do A Bit Of Soul Searching
Sometimes, we get stuck on an idea we have of ourselves that is left over from when we were younger or less experienced, and this idea inhibits us from realizing how awesome weve become. In other words, when you start to tell yourself that you cant do something, or that you are bad at X or Y , check whether youre basing this on who you actually are nowor who you were five years ago.
Ramit Sethi, founder of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, talks a lot about how invisible scriptsdeeply-held notions that affect the way we make decisions on a daily basisshape our lives. Problem is, these scripts are often outdated and misguided.
One of the scripts that was running through my mind each time I got up to speak in front of an audience was that I didnt know enough to be interesting. And, sure, that was probably true when I was 20but now that Ive worked in several countries, built a marketing department from the ground up, founded a successful community of professional women, and written for several publications? Not so much. I had a hugely outdated idea of myself in my head, and it was preventing me from moving forward.
So, consider whether you might be doing the same thing to yourself with public speaking .
Use Diaphragmatic Breathing And Movement
Along with your new attitude, arm yourself with a trio of skills that will add a physical dimension to your comfort and confidence. The first skill is diaphragmatic or “belly breathing,” to counter the shallow, rapid breathing that accompanies speech anxiety. Remind yourself to breathe more deeply and slowly, which will calm your heart rate and oxygenate your brain.
Once you’re breathing fully and diaphragmatically, work on the physical dimension of your presence. Stand with your feet at armpit width, and “ground” yourself, i.e., assume a steadfast stance to give yourself stability and the feeling of the solid earth under your feet. Once you’ve set yourself, you can use your strong position to move appropriately.
Movement has a number of advantages, including releasing tension and the “trapped” feeling anxiety brings with it. It also adds a visual dimension for your audience. And if you move to a different spot for each main point, your positions will help audiences retain those points.
Finally, it just feels good to use a stage to deliver a performance.
Isn’t that better than enduring two minutes of pure hell?
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