Anxiety Reduction for Public Speaking/Presenting
- Getting familiar with the venue and the audience always helps to build confidence. One should always get a grasp on the speaking venue in advance.
- Engaging with the audience is very necessary, as often speakers go on a monotonous path and the audience starts to feel bored — which affects the speaker.
- One should always believe that the audience is there to listen to them and is their ally, not an enemy. Adopting this mindset reduces the fear and anxiety during public speaking.
Public speaking anxiety is a common fear of speaking in front of a crowd. It manifests in several ways, commonly impairing an individual's confidence and mental conditions. There are several tips/tricks prevalent to counter this anxiety. However, many of them fail to be useful due to being impractical or too complex. Provided henceforth are some practical and easy-to-understand tips/tricks to counter public speaking anxiety. These tips/tricks are valid for beginners and experienced individuals alike; widely recommended by public speaking experts.
Preparing for Public Speaking
- Proper Rehearsal
- A speaker can try to rehearse with actual equipment and some mock audience beforehand.
- One should avoid doing the "over-rehearsal." It mentally exhausts the speaker even before the speaking commences.
- Doing one or two full-dress rehearsals provides the speaker with a sense of familiarity with the venue and the environment.
- One should use the rehearsal as an occasion to think of ways to present the speech better.
- Think About The Audience
- Rather than diving headfirst into the topic and substance, one should think about the audience first while preparing for the presentation/public speaking.
- One should understand what they can provide to their audiences' need in advance and adjust their speech accordingly.
- It helps to accept the idea that "everybody in the audience is there to listen, so they are on speaker's side."
- Rather than thinking about how the audience may criticize or reject the speaker, it helps to think about how they would praise your speaking objectively.
- Create Your Environment
- A good practice is to get to the venue ahead of time and get a feel of where one will be speaking/presenting from.
- Arriving ahead of time also allows the speaker to interact with some of the audience beforehand — helping build familiarity.
- If something looks intimidating and awkward standing on-stage, one should ask the venue management to modify or remove them.
- Having a bottle of cold water handy also helps calm the nerves.
- The cold water reduces the temperature of the body, helping reduce anxiety.
Practicing for Public Speaking
- Get Some Perspective
- To get habitual of speaking naturally, one should speak in small groups during practice.
- This can be done with online discussion groups and a select group of friends or family.
- Listening to one's speech recording on audio or video helps with understanding the flaws in the speech pattern.
- Remedying these flaws will improve one's confidence and help with reducing anxiety.
- A speaker should not shy away from seeking opinions from others about their speech while practicing.
- Feedback helps build up rapport and a sense of accomplishment.
- Visualize Success Simulations
- Remembering past successful events and trying to emulate the feelings from back then slowly builds up resistance to anxiety.
- One should visualize themselves giving a great presentation/public speaking.
- Many expert speakers have a ritual they use to get themselves psyched for speaking.
- Developing one's success ritual helps one feel successful in advance and reduces the fear of messing up later.
- One should try to imagine the impressed and awestruck expressions of the audience while practicing their speech.
Calming Nerves during Public Speaking
- Manage Your Body Language
- One should make sustained eye contact with the audience individually while speaking.
- Rather than thinking about the audience as a group, making eye contact with individuals helps the speaker build a conversational flow.
- A trick to calm the nerves mid-speaking is to build familiarity with the audience.
- It can be easily done by focusing on faces that look friendly and frequently focusing on them while speaking.
- While speaking, one should take a "power stance" in which legs are kept wide apart while standing and the chest is always held high.
- This type of stance helps develop confidence through physical stimulation and calms the nerves.
- Interact Smartly
- While speaking, if one feels that they made a mistake, one should postpone the thought until after the session has ended.
- One should never interrupt their speaking flow by apologizing in-between. It is better to retrospect later than break audience engagement mid-speech.
- It is inadvisable to pace on the stage unnecessarily, according to experts. Moving on stage makes the body more excited and fuels anxiety.
- A speaker should avoid using language that is monotonous and lecture-like.
- Rather than speaking continuously at jet speed, it is better to take tiny pauses in between the words to give oneself proper time.
- Rather, it is more beneficial to use engaging and conversation-driven language that makes the audience feel included.
- This also helps the speaker feel familiar with the audience and allays the anxiety. Using story-driven, emotional, and semi-formal language often helps with this.
For this research on tips/tricks to reduce public speaking anxiety, we leveraged the most reputable sources of information available in the public domain, including industrial/business information websites (Forbes, HBR, Inc.com, etc.) and academic sources (articles by educational institutions and expert-compiled guides). The tips found were scouted to be practical, easy to understand, and widely applicable (regardless of public speaking/presenting experience).