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How to Combat Speech Anxiety

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Did you know that speech anxiety has consistently been rated as being feared more than death itself? That means we would rather be in the casket than give the eulogy. While speech anxiety is very common, it doesn't have to plague your life. With the right assistance, it can get better.

How to Combat Speech Anxiety

1. Practice public speaking whenever possible! The more exposure the better.

  • Toastmasters

  • Talking to the cashier at the grocery store (Small talk)

  • Giving strangers compliments (Start with peers that are less intimidating and then push yourself more as you get more confident)

  • Small talk before and after meetings whenever possible (Even if they are virtual)

  • Small talk with neighbors (How is your day? Can you believe this weather? What breed is your dog?)

2. Control what you can.

  • Outfit during presentation (Wear something that won’t show you are sweating if you get really nervous)

  • How much caffeine you had ahead of time (Caffeine is the biggest cause of panic attacks)

  • Test out microphone beforehand if needed

  • Be as prepared as possible

  • Put notes/cards on podium or desk if you need to hide shaky hands

3. To decrease anticipatory anxiety regarding an upcoming speech, remind yourself of this statement in order to stay in the present: "The truth of the matter is what I fear may happen. IF it does, all I can do is deal with it then."

  • Control what you can ahead of time, but accept that there are always going to be some things out of our control.

4. Take care of yourself.

  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol before a speech

  • Exercise can do wonders before a big presentation

  • Sleep is important

  • Have water with you during an interview or speech (Dry mouth is common with nerves)

5. Think Positive

  • Research shows that negative self-talk before and during a presentation can actually make you perform more poorly.

  • Focus on progress, not perfection!

6. Focus on the External rather than the internal

  • Focus on the audience and what they need. (Less on internal anxiety)

7. Deep breathing

  • Counting can assist with this

8. Act contrary to how you feel

  • Power Poses (Another skill I can teach you)

  • Eye-contact

  • Relaxed body posture

If you feel nervous and don’t want to give eye-contact, do the opposite and give eye-contact. Don’t let anxiety dictate behavior. You will notice it is easier to act your way into feeling then think your way into feeling a certain way. There are a lot more tips I can teach you on speech anxiety but these are a few helpful tips to get you started!

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