Sunday, May 4, 2014

Public Speaking Anxiety

A common plight that many of us face is stage fright, or public speaking anxiety. We can have a speech practiced and perfected for weeks, but put us in front of an audience and it's like reading it for the first time. Why is this? Why are we so nervous to present information? It's odd because if you attend a lecture, you aren't constantly judging the presenter, or nit picking at every word they say. But when you're the one speaking, it seems as if everyone is hanging on your every word, when in reality they probably couldn't care less.
This article does a great job of describing little things one can do to help reduce and even eliminate this speaking anxiety. To name a few;

Self Assessment-
  • Begin by identifying problematic thinking patterns (such as those described previously).
  • Ask yourself, "What am I really afraid of?" Doing so may help you gain a more realistic perspective into the realities of what is expected and what is not expected.
  • Ask yourself, "What are my strengths as a public speaker?" In other words, do not overlook the strengths you offer and avoid becoming too focused upon limitations.

Gradual Exposure and Preparation- 
  • Look for opportunities to expose yourself to mild-moderate levels of anxiety that challenge, but do not overwhelm, your ability to succeed. Consider developing a positive visualization of yourself giving a successful class speech or presentation.
  • Practice in front of trusted friends. Review feedback with your friend and make any adjustments accordingly.
  • Video or audiotape yourself. Watch yourself and give yourself constructive feedback, including what was done well and what needs to be improved.
  • Be thoroughly prepared and rehearsed. Nothing replaces adequate time spent in practice.
  • Consider using relaxation techniques to manage feelings of anxiety, such as meditation, yoga, or muscle relaxation to help the mind and body feel uplifted and balanced, yet alert and prepared.

As someone who definitely gets anxious when speaking in front of an audience, tips like these can help me tremendously when trying to prepare myself for any sort of public speaking. What works for you?

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