Anxiety and public speaking:

6 post-speech strategies

Anxiety and public speaking. For many they're twins, forever linked but not in a nice way like summer and sandals or Christmas and presents. This twosome is fearsome. I've seen them make the bravest people weep and welcome practical, proven tips to split them. Permanently.

Guest writer Ryan Rivara says it's not only what you do before a speech to prevent anxiety but what you do afterward as well.

That makes sense to me. I hope it does for you too.

In this article, exclusively for write-out-loud.com, he lays out 6 post-speech strategies to hot wire your brain for ongoing public speaking success.


Beating Anxiety and Public Speaking

There are plenty of proven and effective strategies for how to reduce your stress before a big speech.

But it's not just working on problems before the speech that you can benefit from. It also helps to eradicate ongoing anxiety and public speaking fears if you continue to work after your speech.

Excess anxiety causes the brain to focus only on the bad things when there are so many good things to celebrate.

Have you ever found yourself in this situation?

Your speech is finished. You did it! You nailed it. But you're focusing on the negatives. Your brain is chuntering on:

"Oh, I said 'um' that one time" or "That guy in the back kept looking at his iPhone."

1. Accentuate the Positive

No matter how you feel you did on the speech, you need to focus on the positives.

That is why the first thing you should do is write down on a piece of paper everything you did well.

Try to make it as long as possible – 20 items or more!

Include everything you did successfully no matter how little it may seem:

  • stood facing the audience
  • managed to make eye contact
  • smiled
  • used my cue cards to prompt me when I nearly forgot an important point
  • greeted the audience before I began my speech
  • breathed well
  • and so on...

This teaches your brain that it's important not to care about the negatives - to focus on the positives. If you made a mistake, you'll fix it next time. What's important is all of the ways you thrived and reinforcing them. Next time you speak you'll be sure to do those good things again, improve them too, as well as pick up on any minor errors.

Other important strategies include:

2. Work on Your Non-Speech based Anxiety

Public speaking anxiety is one thing. But perhaps you suffer from other forms of anxiety too. Lots of people do and unfortunately the way anxiety works is that the more you experience regularly, the worse you feel when you are in a more stressful situation – like public speaking. So it's important that you continue to work on the other anxiety issues too. That will help for the next time you're giving a speech. One success doesn't mean stop! Keep going.

3. Relax After It's Over

It's great that you managed to successfully speak in public. As soon as you're done though, you want to immediately get relaxed again.

Lots of people experience a high after public speaking successfully – and you deserve that high. But that high also automatically associates anxiety and public speaking. They're together - a pair.

Remember the stress beforehand?

The solution is to relax immediately after it is over, using the same relaxation techniques and strategies you used before the speech. For example: do your breathing exercises.

Break the association of 'anxiety and public speaking' by making a healthier new one; 'relaxation and public speaking'.

4. Read the Speech Again

Your presentation is over. You wish you could throw it into the fire and burn it triumphantly. Rest assured, you can do that eventually. Yet before you do, go home and read the speech one more time.

You spent so long preparing for an event that caused you much anxiety. Now that the adrenalin rush is over, give the speech once more. This way you'll remember giving the presentation as a relaxed and pleasurable event. Yet another way to break the coupling of anxiety and public speaking!

5. Be Proactive!

After a presentation it's not uncommon to want to melt in relief. You're just so happy that it's over and that you managed to do it successfully.

But before you can do that you need to mingle with the audience; be congratulated by all of the people who were impressed by your speech.

It would be easy to say "thank you" and move on when complimented but why not be proactive?

Use the same energy you used to succeed in your speech to introduce yourself and start conversations. That will make everyone you meet seem like a potential friend as well as providing solid evidence for the image of yourself as a highly competent and confident speaker who meets and talks to people easily.

6. Art Therapy

Finally, turn all that energy into a new way of expressing yourself.

You just finished a great presentation and your public speaking skills were stellar. Harness that energy. Use it. Start an art project! Or any type of creative activity that you enjoy.

Positively and productively transform all that energy released by anxiety and stress.

Learning to turn negative energy into something healthy and good will also ensure that your very next speech will be something you look forward to.

In conclusion, remember to reinforce your success. The more you do, the more you weaken the 'anxiety and public speaking' bond. With the right post-speech strategies, you'll be able to easily and permanently overcome your anxiety and be a public speaking master for years to come.


About the Author: Ryan Rivera had pronounced public speaking and other anxiety problems when he was younger. These days he shares what he's learned about relaxation strategies and dealing with stress at www.calmclinic.com.


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"Words are of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."
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