When you have anxiety, speaking in general is typically a big fear. Just having a one-on-one conversation can drive some anxiety sufferers up the wall. Therefore, public speaking may seem like a huge demon a sufferer never wants to face and will most likely avoid. However, if you must engage in a public speaking event, there are many ways to help reduce the anxiety you experience.
- Prepare– Prepare your speech to the best of your ability. The happier and more proud of the work you have put in, the more confident you will be about speaking.
- Practice- Practice your speech as often as possible. Many who are anxious tend to blank out during speeches due to the overwhelming amount of options their brain is producing on what to say next. Memorize your speech word for word. This will end the possibility of blanking out, knowing what you are going to say from start to finish.
- Don’t go in with a negative mindset- Remember the audience is on your side. Whether or not they have to speak as well, they are not rooting for you to fail. Everyone understands that most experience some form of anxiety before a big speech. Think of the audience as an understanding and sympathetic group of peers. Everyone is or has been in the same boat and they only want to see you succeed.
- Find a reason to be excited about your speech- It is much easier to talk for minutes about your favorite movie or a hobby than it is to start up a conversation out of thin air. Even if you are not passionate about what you are speaking about, find an aspect of it that excites you. This will give you all the more reason to be positive about your speech and willing to share your information.
- Make your opener amazing- The first minute or so of the speech will probably be the most nerve-wracking. Therefore, when working on the speech, emphasize the content in the opener. The reassurance that your speech is starting off on the right foot will help alleviate your anxiety for the remainder of the speech.
- Avoid caffeine before your speech- Each person is different, but typically caffeine is known to increase your heart rate. If you already have anxiety, the anxiousness you experience before your speech will increase your heart rate naturally. Combining these two could lead to a full blown panic attack. Try eating a light meal, exercising a bit to release endorphins, and drinking lots of water.
- Listen to music before your speech- Music is shown to be very relaxing and can even stabilize your heart beat. Listening to calming music will help get your mind off your speech and make you feel better as a whole.
- Try visualization- Think of a person, place, or thing that you love or brings you joy. Imagine that thing in the audience as you are giving your speech. This can help provide comfort to you and alleviate the tension you feel.
- Go slow- While giving your speech, do not rush through it. Go slow. Allow your brain to recall what it needs to do and say and do not force it to work in overdrive. This will also allow you to catch yourself before you make a mistake which can distract you from the rest of the speech.
- Don’t stress it and breathe- Remember that this is only a single event out of the many events you have and will experience in the duration of your life. Do not look at your speech as an “end of the world scenario,” but rather think of it as a growing opportunity for you and an experience to educate your peers on something you worked hard on. Take a deep breath and do your best. You’ve got this.
Anxiety does not always need to stand in your way before uncomfortable situations. There are many tips, tricks, and resources available to make a difficult situation easier. Put faith in yourself and the work you put into your speech, and it will pay off in the end.