Helpful Tips To Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety
If you are going to speak publicly you know that, unless you do this all the time, it can be a little bit intimidating. Maybe you have already had months to practice. Maybe you just found out a minute ago that you were going to speak in front of an audience. Either way, many people experience getting nervous before they are about to deliver a speech in public. I want to share some tools and trick that could help you relax. My advice is easy but helpful. You might find that they can help you shake the speech anxiety.
1. Go sprinting
The first advice is to get your heart rate up. All the way up! You don’t have to go running, but any sort of sports activity that gets you sweating will work. You want to do this a few hours before you are about to deliver your speech. Why? It helps your body stabilize the physical reaction to becoming nervous.
It also helps you think clearer and assists you in gaining control over the heat (sweat) some people struggle with when they get nervous. Of course, this advice doesn’t help if you are put on the spot and asked to give a speech right away, but for those who know in advance, this can really help you relax.
2. Flex…. and relax
If we become nervous during a speech, we sometimes end up flexing muscles. This can cause us to look unnatural, speak funny, and move awkwardly. In this situation, some people find it hard to pronounce words clearly because their jaw gets tense. When we sense that communication is not flowing as we wish it can cause even more muscle stress.
A way to prevent this is to practice the flexing and relaxing of our muscle groups. You want to focus on the muscle groups that tend to stiffen when you get nervous. This is often your hands, your jaw, your neck, and your shoulders. You will experience a new control of the areas that can help you gain to limit the awkwardness when your reflexes tell you to flex. Again, this works best if you know ahead of time that you are going to give the speech.
3. Visual imagery
This advice doesn’t only apply to public speaking. Many successful sports stars do this before a performance. Especially dancers and figure skaters who have strenuous routines that they have to execute. Before a performance, they find a quiet spot and go through their rehearsed moves in their head. It could be a routine, a throw, or a kick. This way they see themselves perform the method without mistakes.
It is a very powerful tool, and it is not only in sports that it is useful. Many professionals use visualization to prepare themselves. You too can visualize your speech. Imagine your introduction, your main points, and your conclusion. Imagine gestures; how you would want it to look from the audience perspective. You don’t need a lot of time to do this visualization. Imagine yourself calmly giving the speech. That way you can convince yourself that it is possible to stay calm and that speaking publicly doesn’t have to be stressful.
4. Dress comfortably
Though a cocktail dress will look amazing on you or your shoes were recently polished; you want to wear something that isn’t uncomfortable. During your speech you don’t want to have anything on that could become a distraction or problem for you.
Familiarize yourself with the location you will be speaking. There could be spotlights making a stage 120 degrees or stairs, wires, etc., High heels, skirts or too many clothes could make it uncomfortable for you to give a speech. This doesn’t mean that you can’t look professional and put together. Some people tend to sweat when they begin speaking, so you also want to consider if sweat will be noticeable in the fabric your clothes are made of.
5. Pray for your audience
Often we pray for ourselves to ask God to calm our nerves. When praying for others, God sometimes allows us to understand them; an insight into emotions or mentality. This can be helpful in giving a speech because you will sense what makes sense to your audience.
Praying can also lead us to love those we pray for. Loving our audience makes it easier for us to feel comfortable speaking in front of them. The speech will become a chance to bless the audience. When you consider this powerful opportunity, you might find that it is much easier to deliver your message.
Slow down on the coffee
Coffee has a tendency to make us jittery and though many people need their cup of joe to get going, maybe consider using another form of caffeine such as tea on the day of.
The scent from lavender is known to have a calming effect. You can typically find lavender oil fairly cheap at health food stores. A few drops in the palm of your hands, then rub them together and inhale the soothing fragrance.
Get your beauty sleep
If possible, try to get a good nights sleep the night before. We function better when we are rested plus lack of sleep, not only can make us distracted—it can also make us anxious. Avoid panic attacks and foggy brain by clocking in early the night before and get some good rest.
Hopefully, you have a good experience with speaking. If you need help on how to put together a short speech, check out this article I wrote. Drop a comment below if you will 🙂
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Disclaimer: The information in this blog is meant as help and is for general informational purposes only. Meaning, do not consider this as legal advice or a consultation. To clarify, I am a communication strategist and consultant with a degree in Communications, and I teach on conflict resolution and communication skills. Surely, I love what I do, and my advice is always based on either textbook communication theory or empirical evidence. However, I cannot be held liable for how you apply my advice. Without a doubt, I hope you well and success in applying the views I share on this blog.
As a law student, I have to give oral presentations often (and I HATE IT).
You definitely offer different types of tips than those that I normally hear, so I thoroughly enjoyed this post.
I never realized that I go run prior to doing anything that makes me nervous until you mentioned getting our heart rates all the way up.
I never thought of how often people in your field have to speak in front of an audience. It’s like all the time. I’m happy I was able to offer some guidance. One thing I haven’t added to the list yet, but that I know helps too is to avoid too much coffee. Drink herbal tea instead so you are not adding to the stress. Good luck with your future presentations.
This is such a useful post as most of these tips can be used in any stressful or anxiety-inducing situation, not just public speaking. I love the one about going for a run beforehand – that’d definitely help to calm my nerves. The flexing and relaxing is also a great idea. I’ve heard of visualisation and tried it myself in the past, with some success. I’m bookmarking this page for future reference in case I need to come back to it. Thanks for the tips!
Thank you, Nicola. That is very encouraging as a writer for me to hear! I hope the next time you are forced to deal with anxiety, you will find the peace and calm you need to feel empowered through it.