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How to Overcome Anxiety About Public Speaking


Even if you haven’t heard the word before, it’s more than likely that you have this phobia: the fear of public speaking. It’s estimated that 3 out of every 4 people have anxiety related to public speaking, so you’re in good company. Still, this issue can be crippling, especially when you need to give a speech for your job or at a specific important occasion.

Your anxiety may feel impossible to overcome in these situations, but all hope is not lost! There are science-backed ways that you can reduce stress related to any phobia, including glossophobia. Read on to learn how to overcome anxiety and give an amazing speech that will blow your audience away!

Take a Deep Breath

Never underestimate the importance of taking a breath. It’s a known fact that oxygen levels and brain function are directly correlated. This means that when you inhale, your thoughts will be more coherent and organized. The physical act of breathing slowly also forces you to take a moment and calm down.

If you struggle with managing your breathing (as many people do), there’s an awesome tool that can help you. The triangle in this video expands and contracts with the same timing as calm breathing should have so that you know at what speed to regulate your breathing. Not only that, but the animation is incredibly calming to watch.

Understand Your Audience

Before you can begin to improve your speech anxiety, it’s important that you understand the audience that will be on the receiving end of your speech. Many people with glossophobia fear that their audience will judge them or laugh at them if they make a mistake, but this generally isn’t the case.

Since public speaking anxiety is more common than not, most of the people in your audience likely empathize with your struggle. Not only that, but everyone who watches you hopes to learn something and gain insight into whatever it is you’re presenting. This means that everyone in your audience is hoping for your success and that you have a lot of support.

Watch Others Succeed

Watching other people succeed at something that makes you nervous is always a boost to your confidence. After all, the people who have done well were probably anxious, too! For example, Warren Buffet was terrified of public speaking when he was younger but now is one of the most widely quoted men in the world. 

If others can overcome their fears, you can too!

This campaign, among other inspirational stories, is sure to make you feel as though you can do anything. So do your online research and learn how other people have succeeded. Chances are, you’ll feel more powerful afterward.

Use Visual Aids Appropriately

When you begin to ready yourself for your speech, one of the first things you’ll likely ask yourself is how to use visual aids. While typing everything you want to say on a PowerPoint and using it as a crutch is tempting, this is sure to disengage your audience. Not only that, but any little mistake in the presentation will confuse you and make you even more anxious.

A good rule of thumb is to have memorized (or be able to improvise) 100 words for each keyword that you have memorized. Putting a few sentences on a PowerPoint as a prompt is awesome, but don’t type out full paragraphs.

Practice Makes Perfect

As with everything, practicing your speech at length before the big day is crucial. It will help you to boost your confidence, get you more familiar with the subject material, and ensure that you’re used to the way that any visual aids you may have work.

While practicing in front of a beloved pet or a favorite stuffed animal is great, you should also attempt to practice in front of a living person who can give you feedback. Ask a family member, partner, or trusted friend to listen to your speech a couple of times and give you some helpful pointers.

It’s also a good idea to practice in a mirror or to record yourself while speaking and play it back. This will allow you to see (and be proud of) the things that you’re doing well in addition to alerting you to any areas where your speech could use improvement. Getting help from a professional speaker that has years of knowledge in the field, and can help you master your public speaking skills will be a great help as well.

Have Water on You

When giving a speech, make sure that you have some water (or herbal tea) handy. It’s scientifically proven that water makes us feel calm and reduce stress. Like all organs, our brain needs proper hydration to function, and when you’re nervous about something, it’s easy to forget to drink.

Don’t fall into that rabbit hole! Take a sip of water while you’re speaking at each transition. Your mind and body will both thank you.

Be Conversational

One of the worst things that you can do when giving a public speech is to get in your own head and overemphasize the size of your audience in your own mind. Choose someone (or a few people) in the audience that you like and pretend like you’re explaining something only to them. Make it feel like a conversation between yourself and a few other people.

Don’t Overthink Audience Reactions

No matter how well you do while speaking, your audience is going to react in ways that will baffle your anxiety-rattled mind. Don’t worry too much about the reactions of your audience. The woman making a strange face in the second row might just have something in her teeth and the man whose leg is bouncing may simply have something in his shoe. You never know what’s going on in the minds of your audience, so don’t assume that their reactions are a reflection of your success.

More on How to Overcome Anxiety

Now that you know how to overcome anxiety about public speaking, it’s time to get some more lifestyle tips that will have you living life to the fullest. Check out the ‘psychology’ tab on our webpage to learn more about issues like anxiety and phobias. Knowledge is the first step to solving any problems you may be having!

Good luck and remember to take a breath!

David Smith