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11 Tips to Overcome Public Speaking Fear & Anxiety

Did you know that glossophobia (the fear of public speaking) is the number one fear in the world, affecting a staggering 73% of the population*? For many, the thought of standing in front of a crowd can induce overwhelming anxiety and nervousness. However, with the right strategies, you can conquer this fear and deliver a confident presentation. Here are 11 tips to help you reduce public speaking anxiety:

  1. Prepare: Proper preparation is key to calming nerves. Know your material inside and out, and be familiar with your presentation slides or notes. The more prepared you are, the more confident you'll feel.

  2. Practice: Rehearse your speech multiple times, either in front of a mirror or with a friend or family member. This will help you feel more comfortable with the content and delivery.

  3. Power Pose: Before your presentation, strike a power pose for a few minutes. Standing tall with your shoulders back can boost confidence, reduce stress hormones and increase power-dominance hormones. Want to learn more? Watch Amy Cuddy's TED Talk, Your Body May Shape Who You Are to learn how "standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident -- can boost feelings of confidence, and might have an impact on our chances for success."

  4. Exercise: Engage in light physical activity before your speech to burn off nervous energy, release endorphins and reduce tension. A brisk walk, yoga session or even a quick workout can help calm nerves. Just don't go too hard and tire yourself out.

  5. Meditate: Incorporate mindfulness or meditation techniques into your routine to promote relaxation and focus. Even just a few minutes of meditation can help calm pre-presentation jitters.

  6. Breathe: Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your nerves before and during your speech. Deep breathing helps to slow your heart rate, regulate emotions, give you a sense of calm and put you in a positive mood. One of my favorite techniques to utilize pre-presentation is box breathing: 👃 Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4. 😐 Hold your breath for a count of 4. 😯 Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 4. 😐 Hold your breath for a count of 4. 🔁 Repeat. Start with a few minutes and add time as you get more comfortable with the technique.

  7. Avoid Caffeine: While it may be tempting to reach for a cup of coffee to combat fatigue, caffeine can exacerbate anxiety symptoms. If you're someone who experiences physical symptoms of anxiety such as racing heart, shaky hands or jitters, drinking caffeine is the equivalent of dumping gasoline on a fire. Opt for herbal tea or water instead to stay hydrated and calm. If you get a headache skipping your cup of joe, have just a little to avoid a headache.

  8. Sleep: Prioritize a good night's sleep before your presentation. Adequate rest is essential for cognitive function and emotional well-being, helping you stay focused and composed. It is recommended you get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep to ensure your brain is firing on all cylinders.

  9. Eat Healthy Foods: Fuel your body with healthy, nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and lean proteins that provide sustained energy and promote mental clarity. Avoid eating heavy meals and eating too close to your presentation time. When you eat, the blood rushes from your brain and muscles to your stomach to aid in digestion, making you feel tired and sluggish.

  10. Visualize Success: Positive visualization can help alleviate anxiety and boost self-assurance. Visualize yourself delivering a successful presentation with confidence and poise, focusing on the outcome you want to happen, not the one you fear will happen.

  11. Listen to Uplifting Music: Music is processed directly by the amygdala, the brain's processing center for mood and emotions. Listening to music boosts dopamine levels, triggers biochemical stress reducers, and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. So turn up your favorite mood-boosting tunes and sing at the top of your lungs!

So what are you waiting for? The stage is calling! By implementing these 11 tips, you can effectively manage public speaking anxiety and deliver a memorable presentation with confidence. Remember, nervousness is natural, but with practice, preparation and the right tools in your kit, you can overcome it and shine on stage!

SPEAC Success,

*According to National Institute of Mental Health


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