Managing Anxiety About Public Speaking: Strategies & Tips

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  • 0:01 Public Speaking Anxiety
  • 2:08 Overcoming Public…
  • 4:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

Speaking before a crowd can provoke anxiety even in the most seasoned speakers. There are several tips and strategies a public speaker can employ to reduce the level of stress associated with public speaking.

Public Speaking Anxiety

So, you are all set to give a speech of a lifetime, and all of a sudden, it hits you - palms begin to sweat, teeth chatter, dizziness, and even heart palpitations. At first, you think you are coming down with the flu bug. Nope, you're not. You're suffering public speaking anxiety, which is sometimes called glossophobia, and it's a form of stage fright where one is fearful of public scrutiny.

Don't think you're crazy. There is a perfectly logical explanation for this. You see, when we are scared of something, our minds tell us we have to do everything we can to survive. So, when faced with public speaking, our body reacts by sweating, fast heartbeat and other symptoms. In turn, our mind plays right into it. This can be paralyzing.

Did you know it is one of the most common phobias? It happens to some of the most seasoned speakers. It is so common that many people have plans in place to avoid public speaking. It can be so debilitating, people with performance anxiety may choose a career where they will never be asked to speak before a crowd. Others may choose college courses that will never require an oral presentation.

It is known that we humans can only concentrate on one complex task at a time. So, with that in mind, it boils down to two variables: How well you will do making the speech weighed against how important are the consequences of doing well.

Let's make sense out of this. If you were a leading expert in something and made a speech before an audience who knew less than you, the consequences of doing well may be lower because the audience expectations will be lower.

However, if you had to perform before an audience who knew what you know and even more, the consequences are higher. This can provoke anxiety because the consequences for doing a good job are much higher. So, you're thinking this is all well and good. But it doesn't help much as I spin into a panic attack at the very thought of walking out on stage.

So, what can a person do to overcome stage fright?

Overcoming Public Speaking Anxiety

There are many ways in which a person can overcome their fear of public speaking. Let's explore some of the options:

  • Prepare ahead of time
  • Practice your speech
  • Don't expect to be perfect
  • Get rid of negative self-talk
  • Locate pleasant faces in the audience
  • Visualize success
  • Breathe between lines

Let's break down each strategy.

Prepare the content of the speech. It will boost confidence that the information is accurate and on-point. This can eliminate the fear of the audience thinking you are, well, not so smart.

Practice it over and over again even if it means presenting your speech to your cat. In fact, your cat may be the perfect audience because she is not confrontational and probably knows little on the topic. This may ease discomfort because you will be very comfortable with the flow of the speech.

Don't expect to be perfect. Perfection is not possible. You may blurt out something you did not intend. Think about the worst thing that can happen. Probably nothing serious will come from a small misstep. A minor slip up probably will not even be noticed.

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