How To Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

How To Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Do you feel anxious whenever you are meant to address a group of people? Have you tried to but just can’t figure out how to overcome this problem? Then, you need to know two things. Firstly, public speaking anxiety is a very common social fear that a lot of people have, so there is nothing wrong with you. Secondly, it is something you can work on and put behind you; which is why this article shares tips on how to overcome public speaking anxiety.

At the end of this article, you will be armed with enough knowledge to put your public speaking anxiety behind you.

Therefore, make sure you read this article to the end.

What is Public Speaking Anxiety – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Public speaking anxiety is otherwise known as performance anxiety or speech anxiety.

It is a kind of social anxiety disorder (social phobia) that makes it difficult for a person to address people.

When public speaking anxiety significantly affects a person’s life, then it might be diagnosed as a social anxiety disorder.

Public speaking anxiety is different from feeling nervous before addressing a crowd.

Public speaking anxiety is often more overwhelming and can make a person feel less in control of their lives.

As a business owner or leader, part of your responsibilities may involve addressing a group of people, no matter how small.

And if you have public speaking anxiety, you will find it very difficult to carry out this responsibility.

Signs of Public Speaking Anxiety – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Social anxiety disorder and public speaking anxiety both have the same symptoms.

However, with public speaking anxiety, the symptoms only come up when you have you speak publicly.

If you have public speaking anxiety, then you would start feeling anxious weeks or even months before the day you are meant to make a presentation or speech.

Other than this, you would experience some physical anxiety symptoms when you are finally making your presentation or speech.

People often experience different anxiety symptoms when speaking publicly.

However, some of the most common physical anxiety symptoms include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Quivering voice
  • Racing heart
  • Shaking
  • Blushing

What Causes Public Speaking Anxiety – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Public speaking anxiety symptoms are often triggered by a person’s flight response.

The flight response is an adrenaline rush that prepares a person when a threat is encountered.

When you have public speaking anxiety, your mind triggers your flight response.

However, because there isn’t any real physical danger, you might feel like you can’t control your body.

It is at this point you may start experiencing the symptoms.

The symptoms will then make it difficult for you to succeed with your presentation or speech.

Tips on How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Public speaking anxiety can be quite overwhelming and might even seem impossible to overcome.

However, this is not true.

With the right tool, tips, and enough practice, you can train yourself to become a great public speaker.

This is why some tips that will help you overcome your public speaking anxiety will be discussed below.

When you follow these tips properly, you most likely will find yourself becoming the best version of yourself.

1. Select A Subject Matter or Topic That You Like

If you can select your topic, then use this chance to your advantage.

Select a subject matter or topic that you like or find interesting.

You will feel more at ease when you are speaking about something you are passionate about.

When selecting your topic, ensure that the topic is something you can talk about from the depth of your heart and will benefit your audience

Also, choose a topic that has impacted you in one way or the other and you would enjoy sharing with others

Your passion for the topic alongside the thought that people in the audience can gain from what you have to say will increase your confidence while ensuring your nerves are kept in check.

If you do not have the advantage of choosing the topic by yourself, then find an interesting approach to the topic.

For instance, if the topic you were given isn’t something you find interesting, you can open your speech with a personal story relating to the topic.

Doing this will make you more interested in the speech.

You’d feel motivated and confident by giving the speech in a way that you relate to.

2. Do Not Forget to Plan/Be Organized – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Lack of preparation is among the many reasons people get anxious when public speaking.

Therefore, before your presentation or speech, you need to get as prepared as possible.

Make thorough plans that will lead you every step of the way.

Make a plan that will help you catch and keep your audience’s attention.

Ensure you are as organized as possible.

Make notes; outline the key notes and points of the speech.

You can use color-coding for important parts.

This will make it easier to remember to talk about them.

If you want to make use of visual aids, then ensure you use them while you practice.

Get familiar with the technological aspect of your presentation or speech too.

Familiarize yourself with your phone, tablet, or laptop.

3. Get Used to The Venue

Learn as much as you can about the venue for the presentation or speech.

Visit the venue before the day of the presentation or speech and get familiar with it.

If it’s a video conference, then check out the platform and get familiar with it.

If you can, practice your presentation or speech in the venue or video conference platform.

When you get used to the venue, you would be more comfortable when the day for your presentation or speech finally arrives.

4. Ask If You Can Get Certain Accommodations – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Accommodations in this sense mean features and effects that can be added to the work environment to make you more comfortable.

These accommodations can help calm your anxiety, so do not be shy to ask for them.

For instance, you can ask for a podium if it is not readily available in the venue.

You can ask to get audiovisual equipment.

If it’s appropriate a chair for you to sit in.

5. Practice – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Most times, people experience anxiety when public speaking because they are not prepared enough.

Therefore, you need to take out time to properly prepare yourself ahead of your presentation or speech.

Everyone knows that practicing is a sure-proof way to get prepared; practice makes perfect.

Practicing will help you become very familiar with the topic you are to speak on.

If you want to get better at public speaking, then you should not stop speaking.

Speak; rehearse your speech whenever you have the time to.

When you are properly prepared, you would be able to answer the questions that your audience will ask you.

Knowing the answers to what you would be asked will substantially build your confidence level.

6. Read Books

You need to read more if you want to become proficient at public speaking.

Reading will help you build your vocabulary and also improve your speaking ability and skills.

When you have a great vocabulary, you would be able to pass across your message coherently.

Read books on how to speak publicly, read self-help books, motivational and inspirational quotes, and stories.

7. Watch Yourself in Your Mirror and Give Your Speech – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Stand in front of your mirror and give your presentation or speech.

Do this as though you are already addressing your audience.

While you do this, take note of your appearance; how friendly or welcoming your look

Also, watch your body language, movements, gestures, and facial expressions

Doing this will help you know what you need to adjust to make you look more welcoming and open to the audience.

8. Record Yourself Giving Your Speech, Watch/Listen to It and Figure Out How to Get Better

Recording yourself while giving your speech is one way to overcome public speaking anxiety.

When you do this, you can now watch or listen to the recording and see areas where you are lacking and need to work on.

Make sure you give the presentation or speech from the start to finish.

Do not stop recording even if you forget a point, stutter, or make any mistake.

After you are done recording yourself, watch or listen to it.

Take note of your tone, how often you say “um”, how rich your vocabulary is, and the speed with which you spoke.

Some people don’t like how their voice sounds when recorded.

If you are one of such persons, then chances are you do not know how you sound when you speak.

If this is the case, then you won’t know how to improve your public speaking skills.

Therefore, you need to try to listen to yourself so that you can get familiar with your voice and your speaking style as well.

9. Let A Friend or Family Member Listen to You Giving Your Presentation or Speech

Get a friend or family member and let them listen to your presentation or speech.

Afterward, let them give you feedback about it.

This way, your opinion about your presentation or speech won’t be all you have to improve it.

Let the person you choose for this exercise be close to what your audience is expected to be.

For instance, if you would be addressing a group of entrepreneurs, the person you choose to listen to your presentation should be an entrepreneur or a business-minded person.

Aside from helping you get ready for the D-day, having someone listen to your presentation would help you face your fear of public speaking.

You can even choose to gather a small group of people, like your family, and present your speech to them. 

When the day comes for you to give your presentation or speech, you can calm your anxiety by thinking you are speaking to just that person or small group of people, rather than a crowd.

10. Take A Course on Public Speaking – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

A public speaking course can go a long way in helping you overcome public speaking anxiety.

There are several options to pick from and you’d surely find one that fits perfectly with your schedule.

You can choose to take the course online or in a physical class setting.

Just make sure that you choose a course that has a lot to offer and can help you on your road to becoming a good public speaker.

11. Consider Using Visual Aids – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Visual aids can be perfect to help you recall your points and keep your anxiety at bay.

When you have visual cues reminding you of what to say next, you’d feel better prepared.

This would help you stay calm and collected.

However, try not to read directly from your slides.

Also, ensure that the visual cues are simple and straight to the point.

12. Try Some Breathing Exercises

One thing that might happen when you experience anxiety when public speaking is that you would find yourself speaking very fast.

Breathing exercises can help you prevent this from happening.

You can focus on how you inhale and exhale; take long and deep breaths and focus on it.

Doing this can help you know how to properly pace yourself when giving your speech.

Also, breathing exercises can help you stay calm and reduce your anxiety levels.

You can start doing these exercises some days before your big day, before you start your presentation or speech, and even while giving your presentation or speech.

13. Exercise Before Public Speaking

It may seem weird but exercising before you speak publicly can help you manage your anxiety.

Exercise can be a key motivator and can be what you need to boost your creativity.

It would also help you release any stifled energy and boost your blood circulation.

This would help calm your nerves and keep you relaxed while you give your speech.

14. Remember to Pause – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Pausing during your speech can help you overcome public speaking anxiety.

When you pause, your audience will have the time to think about what you are saying and connect with both you and your message.

You can also use the time to slow down and make sure that you haven’t gone off-topic or haven’t been speaking too fast.

15. Focus on Your Speech and Not the Reaction of Your Audience – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Before your presentation or speech, you should take out time to research your audience and find out what they expect from you.

When you do this, you’d pattern your presentation or speech to resonate with them.

If you prepare like this, then you can rest assured that your audience will be interested in what you have to say.

Therefore, you should not leave your message and start focusing on how the audience is responding to what you are saying.

Someone might be yawning in the back or scrolling through their phone.

But, you should know that you will always have tired or bored people in the audience regardless of how interesting or impactful your presentation or speech is.

So, you should not let these people’s reactions get to you and get you all worked up and anxious.

Instead, focus on what you are saying.

16. Drink Water – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Make sure that you have water beside you because you most likely would need it.

Your throat might get dry and this could trigger anxiety.

Therefore, you need water to keep your throat lubricated.

Make sure you take enough water during the day.

This will keep you hydrated and also ensure your body and mind stays sharp.

Also, avoid taking sugary beverages before public speaking.

Sugary beverages can make your mouth and throat dry and make it more difficult for you to speak.

17. Try Meditation – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Meditation can play a big role in keeping you calm and collected during your presentation or speech the same way breathing exercises do.

You can try reciting a positive mantra to boost your confidence level and keep yourself from getting nervous when speaking.

Similarly, you can use meditation to transform your anxiety into positive adrenaline.

Nervousness is an adrenaline form and luckily, you can trick your mind into believing you are excited when you feel nervous.

18. See Yourself Succeeding

When you practice, imagine yourself addressing the audience already and doing a good job at it.

Envision yourself succeeding. 

Keep doing this until your mind believes that you have all it takes to achieve this vision.

19. A Little Anxiety Won’t Hurt

Accept that you might always experience a bit of anxiety.

So, do not be angry with yourself when you feel a bit of anxiety.

Even professional public speakers tend to get a little bit nervous before their performance.

A little bit of anxiety may make your performance better, so learn to accept it.

20. Constantly Seek Improvement – How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

You can’t get to the point where you no longer need to improve.

It doesn’t matter if you feel you have turned into a very proficient public speaker, you should always try to improve.

Regardless of what you might think, there is always room for improvement.

Therefore, even though your presentation or speech goes smoothly, always review it.

Get feedback from someone in the audience and find out what you need to do better the next time.

If you can get a video or audio recording of the speech, watch or listen to it and review your performance.

Conclusion on How to Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Public speaking anxiety is a common fear that a lot of people have and experience.

However, you can work on it, just as we have seen in this article.

Therefore, we advise that you take advantage of all the great tips we have shared in this article to ensure you overcome your public speaking anxiety.

Know that your anxiety won’t disappear overnight.

So, keep doing these tips even when it doesn’t look like you are making progress.

With time, your effort and consistency will pay off.