Below you'll find a collection of tips for overcoming performance anxiety or fear of public speaking. You don't need to wage war or lock yourself in to a grim, gritted-teeth battle. These suggestions work.
Use them faithfully and you'll go from knee-knockingly terrified to able.
To start, get the adrenalin flowing in your body working for you by sidestepping into systematic planning.
This way, when and if it does peak, it will have a well rehearsed pathway to run down. You will have that nervous anxiety under control and contained.
1. Be a fact finder
Control begins with knowing as much as you can about the event and what is expected of you.
Know where the presentation or speech is scheduled to happen.
Know precisely when you are required to be there.
Find out how long you are expected to speak for.
If you don’t know or haven’t been told, find out what subject matter is suitable, the intended purpose of your presentation. Is it to inform, motivate, entertain ...
Get an estimate of the expected size of the audience and who they are likely to be: male,female, mixed audience, old, young, mixed age range and any other pertinent defining characteristics.
Make sure you WRITE IT ALL DOWN and put somewhere you know you’ll not lose it: place, date, time, length of speech, subject, audience AND the name of your contact person from the organization or group you’re speaking for, plus their phone number.
2. Plan & prepare
Planning and preparation are essential if you are going to conquer your fear.
Think of it as assuring yourself you are safe. When you are, you have no need to feel afraid and the unpleasant symptoms of fear or anxiety are minimized. The more you are sure of what you are going to do, the better it will be. Good planning and preparation will give you peace of mind.
The terms, planning and preparation, cover many areas. Some are essential. Others you may, or may not, need depending on your personal situation. The links below will take you to more.
If you're hungry for more check these pages. Each offers suggestions to deepen your understanding and skills.
Voice image secrets: Understand why it's important to have the best dressed voice in town. Grooming isn't just for clothes. How you speak can determine what other people think about you.
Articulation/diction exercises: Tips to ensure you are understood. If you are inclined to mumble or fudge the ends of your words, then this is for you.
Coloring your voice: If you speak in a bland gray monotone you risk boring your listeners! They switch their ears off. Learn to speak in vibrant, alive TECHNICOLOR vocal variety.
Pacing your speech: How fast is too fast? How slow is too slow? Get your speaking pace JUST RIGHT.
Using silence: Give your words space so they may be fully effective. Pausing gives the listener time to hear and understand what you are saying. Silence is one of the most powerful speaking techniques to use. Give yourself the power of the pause.
Posture: What is your body language telling your audience? Make sure its story fits your speech as your listeners use their eyes as well as their ears. The blend of what you look like with what you sound like is an essential element in giving a successful speech.
Remembering to breathe: Good breath control governs whether you squeak with anxiety or deliver as smooth as silk. If you hold your breath when concentrating or anxious, these exercises are for you.
To use humor or not to use humor: When your idea of a good laugh turns bad, it can be ugly. Learn how to use humor effectively to avoid the embarrassment of being the only one who ‘got’ the joke.
The symptoms of anxiety of public speaking are many and range from mild to extreme. At their worst it would be easy to think we've caught a bug of some sort. We have, in a way, as fear can manifest in debilitating ways.