Managing Public Speaking Anxiety

Are you afraid of speaking in front of Public? Matt Abrahams from mentions there are three sources of anxiety according to Academics.

1. Situation based anxiety:

We are anxious because we see our speaking as a performance. We tend to associate right or wrong to it. Actors or Singers experience Performance anxiety because there is a right way in Acting or Singing. If you are not standing at your mark, you might miss the light and then it going to confuse the light man, the sound man and other people lined-up behind you.

But the good part in Speaking is there is no right or wrong way to it. There is definitely a better way or a worse way. So what we want to do is to get away from Performance anxiety and reframe the Situation. We should not see it as a Performance, but as a Conversation since most of us are at ease at conversing. The process is called Cognitive Reframing.

It’s all about seeing it in a different way. When it comes to conversations, we can sharpen our skills through:

a. Practice (wherever you can)…say at the dinner table with your family and friends.

b. Use conversational language rather than trying to be formal.

c. Use questions, which will calm down your nerves.

2. Audience:

We become anxious because of the Audience, who might be senior or elder to us, more knowledgeable group, or our peers or friends.

Technique to address this issue is though Visualization. It is where you see it in your mind but you don’t actually do it. What this means is – Go to the room where you are scheduled to speak, check the environment, visualize people sitting it in and the type of people you would be presenting to. See people responding positively to your presentation. What it does is it de-sensitizes you. In modern day, with access to Internet and Social media, this can be done easily even if you do not have access to the room or don’t know the audience you are going to be presenting to.

Just see the situation and see it go positively for you. Do not visualize making your presentation as that will lead you to performance anxiety.

3. Our Goal:

We speak to inform, convey an idea, or to get good results. By definition, goals are all future focused, and it is that future concern that makes us nervous.

Here’s what we do – we become present oriented. That way we will not be concerned about the future consequences.

There are ways to get into the present moment – ever seen athletes listen to the music, so they are not concerned about the future?; play Sudoku; count backwards from a tough number like 71.

To recap, what we have gone though are the 3 sources of anxiety:

Situation – And we said that’s about reframing to a Conversation.

Audience – That’s about Visualization.

Goal – That’s about being Present Oriented.

Each of you can reflect on your own anxiety and identify the sources of it. There could be multiple sources, but often it is predominated by one. Then try the techniques we studied above.

It will definitely calm down your nerves the next time you walk out on stage.

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