In this article we discuss public speaking anxiety. Not performance anxiety, that's not my field of expertise.
We need to talk about public speaking anxiety, or stage fright, because it’s something that affects most people, even the best speakers. As Mark Twain said, “There are two types of speakers: Those who get nervous and those who are liars.”
According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death.
It's hard to find somebody who shows up in front of an audience and doesn't feel anything in his or her stomach. We are human beings and it’s normal to have a bit of anxiety. It doesn't matter whether you get nervous or not, what matters is how you handle it. And that's the difference between the beginners and the more experienced presenters – the beginners panic while the experienced presenters know how to handle anxiety.
Here are three tips on how to better manage speaking anxiety.
According to Psychology Today, breathing is essential in controlling anxiety. There’s one type of breathing in particular – which comes from meditation – that’s super helpful and also easy to practise. The only thing you have to do is breathe out slowly. Breathing out slowly a few times before a presentation lowers your heart rate and calms down your nervous system, so you can feel more relaxed in front of your audience.
Anxiety causes a certain amount of nervous energy to flow through our bodies (this is what we call adrenaline). And all this excess energy must find a way out. That's why when people have a panic attack, they often find it difficult to remain seated. Therefore, if the goal is to control anxiety, let’s move. A simple walk before a presentation can do wonders. As you start moving, the excess energy comes out of your body and you’ll feel calmer.
Rehearsing your presentation before the day of the presentation is essential. One of the reasons we often get nervous is because we are afraid of forgetting what we want to say. And here the only solution is to prepare well. Rehearsing your presentation allows us to know your material so well that remembering what to say no longer requires any effort.