Does speaking in public intimidate you? Here are our tips for overcoming your cold sweats.
One of the most common anxieties is speaking in public. Sweaty palms, trembling voice, blurred thoughts. These symptoms testify to the stress typically caused by public speaking, especially when you lack self-confidence.
A study by the National Institute for Mental Health in the United States shows that 74% of the American population fears speaking in public. John R. Montopoli, Co-founder of the National Social Anxiety Center, says “Public speaking phobia is most common ahead of the fear of death, spiders, or heights.
If this fear concerns you, know that succeeding in public speaking is not insurmountable. Dr. Craig N. Sawchuk, associate professor of psychology at the Mayo Clinic, assures that “with preparation and persistence, you can overcome your phobia.
Examine your fears
Think back to the presentations you made. How did you feel before and after speaking in public? Is there a particular memory that you can’t get out of your head?
Ita Olsen, renowned speech-language pathologist, author, communication expert, and founder of Convey Clearly, explains that the fear of public speaking is often based on unfounded assumptions:
“If you give the wrong answer to a question asked by your teacher in class, and he answers “that’s wrong” and then looks around for someone with the right answer, it’s a form of negative feedback.
“If I’m not right, I’m the laughingstock of everyone. So I’m going to stop participating in class because I don’t want to risk being humiliated again”.
The anxiety and stress caused by the fear of saying things that are wrong, trivial, or already said, then hinder the student’s ability to communicate.
“Our brain has not yet evolved to the point where we can communicate effectively and convincingly during stressful situations,” Olsen argues. When we experience a spike of anxiety, our prefrontal brain stops operating normally.
It’s for this reason that an hour or a week after a lively conversation, you say to yourself, “My God, I should have said this, or that!” “. You have the right answers in mind, they are simply not accessible in difficult situations. »
If possible, rehearse your speech in front of someone or record yourself. This will allow you to identify and eliminate overly long sentences or overly elaborate turns of phrase, adjust your flow and track down language tics as well as parasitic gestures.
Also, do visualization exercises; imagine yourself doing a brilliant speech in the intended place, visualize the attitude you want to have, the way you speak, and the way you feel – confident, calm, focused ).
These positive and pleasant images will allow you to condition yourself and give you confidence before the big day.
Very simple tips to better control your nerves and regain confidence
Captivate your audience
When you speak, try to capture your audience’s attention and keep them interested. Keep in mind that many people in the audience share your fear of speaking up.
So, rather than imagine that your audience is silently judging you (which feeds your fears), imagine rather that they admire and encourage you!
“Think about the knowledge your listeners need, and remember that they aren’t focused on you, but rather on what they can obtain from your presentation,” Olsen suggests. If you see yourself as your audience’s vehicle of information, you’ll be less worried about your stage image and better able to deliver a clear and persuasive speech. »
Physical reactions that can seem out of control during a presentation—sweating, sweaty palms, or a shaky voice-cause part of the fear of speaking.
Olsen, therefore, advises relaxing your body before speaking. For example, roll your shoulders and neck. Also, do breathing exercises with deep breaths to help you calm down.
Olsen’s approach is based on understanding the tensions in your body and how to learn to manage them.