Public speaking anxiety

by admin on October 18, 2012

If you don’t feel calm, pretend you do

That’s right. If you can’t feel genuinely cool, calm and confident yet, fake it.  Act as if you’re calm and confident.

Think about your next public presentation. Do you immediately feel that stab of fear and panic associated with public speaking anxiety?  Tuning in to those feelings lets you experience with me how those feelings are only that: feelings.  You can also see clearly that it’s your memories of previous fear-filled events, that have triggered those symptoms of fear.

For more public speaking confidence, do this

Deliberately open your mouth just a little bit, and consciously let your tongue go very limp.

Look at yourself in the mirror. It’s physically impossible for you to be tense and anxious while you’re opening your mouth just a little bit, and while you’re keeping your tongue limp and relaxed.

Now that you’re relaxed…talk to yourself in the mirror. It’s alright. There’s only you and me here and I won’t tell anyone. Keeping your tongue very limp and your mouth, chin and jaw areas very loose, say a few words. For instance, try saying “I’m feeling really terrified about that talk next Tuesday.”

Now, please go and get your speaking notes, the ones you’ve prepared for the talk by distilling youe talk to speaking notes which will be your special prompts or cues on the big day.  Holding those brief notes….

Stand in front of the mirror again. Keep your mouth nice and relaxed. Let’s forget about keeping your tongue too limp, just concentrate on looking at yourself in the mirror knowing that your face is relaxed.

With that very relaxed mouth, start giving your talk. Smile at the little joke you’ll tell your audience next week. Look suitably worried when you give that statistic about the spread of illiteracy or poverty.

That’s a proven strategy for dealing with public speaking anxiety.

Maybe you want to say to me: “But Jeannette, I’ve only been pretending that I was feeling calm and confident about that next presentation.”

My response?  “Think about this, my sweetness. During the five minutes of that exercise, you were calm and relaxed.  Trust me, you’ll feel that very same way in front of an audience”.

So find an audience

Do that calm relaxed rehearsal again with an audience of a few family and friends. Tell them you’re doing an experiment.

Just before you start your presentation, open your mouth a little.  Recall that image of you standing relaxed in front of the mirror. By triggering that memory of that relaxed state, your mind will re-produce that feeling.

If your memories of fear can produce feelings of fear, your memories of speaking in a confident and relaxed way can produce feelings of being confident and relaxed.

  • Gary Eckstein

    Great article on Public Speaking. Thanks Jeannette.

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