How To Overcome Your Anxiety During Public Speaking

It is not that far fetched for me to say this.

Even professional speakers feel the jitters when it comes to speaking in public. Yes, even if they have done it a gazillion times over the course of their professional lives. Cause no audience is ever the same.

So what does that make you? A non professional aspiring public speaker. Or even perhaps an aspiring content creator on YouTube. And perhaps a small business owner who is trying to create branding videos. Will you feel the same fear and get anxious all over?

The need to manage and overcome performance anxiety is real. Most public communicators go through a zone of fear and uncertainty, that zooms them into an unexplained state of irrationality.

So how do you manage a bit of that dreadful anxiety?

Here are some quick hacks I use for myself.

Minimize Your Preparations

This may seem contradictory to the norm of being competent. However, I have discovered over the course of my coaching engagements, that 7 out of 10 aspiring speakers fluffed as a result of being over prepared.

Yes. Over preparations.

Over preparations in most cases put a level of unnecessary stress on the speaker. The speaker will have that immense need of wanting to tick off all that preparations in his head. Leaving no room for errors can sometimes be the exact reason why people become more anxious than they should be.

Preparations should put you in a state of being able to navigate expertly and flexibly during the presentation. It should not be a straight jacket that paralyzes you.

Regulate Your Breathing

What has breathing got to do with managing your anxieties as a speaker?

Plenty.

There have been many times when my inability to control my breathing, led me to losing my voice and stage presence.

The anxieties you have as a public speaker or presenter can be the cause and effect of irregular breathing. A speaker who is anxious will not breathe properly. Likewise, when you do not breathe properly, anxiety will set in. Therefore it is important you take note of the following with regards to breathing in managing your anxities.

  • Be aware of your positional posture. A wide and relaxed posture aids in allowing more air to be breathed in and regulated.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly. Take intentional deep breaths before you speak.
  • Pause and regulate. Speaking fast is the surest way to lose your breathing patterns and create unnecessary stress. Relax
  • Breathe through your nose. It is amazing just how many people are not aware that breathing through the mouth is not just more taxing, it also does not help with anxiety management.
  • Relax. Relax. Relax. While it may seem easier said than done, it actually is quit manageable. Relaxation requires the practice of being able to quieten or shutting down your lizard brain. When you relax, your breathing becomes manageable.

progression not perfection

Most speakers believe in that unverified claim that competency lies in the perfect delivery of your speech. Where your voice does not crack, you are maintaining eye contact, your words come out fluently and everything is done in one perfect take.

Well, here’s the great news. You need not buy into that “perfect” bullshit.

Delivering a speech is not an Olympic sport. Meaning that there are no actual parameters by which you can be judged and marked with. The pressure and anxiety of “meeting some invisible benchmarks” can be crippling. What you need to do is to manage the controllable aspects of your delivery or presentation. Understand that most of the anxieties is actually happening inside your mind, rather than it being manifested in reality. So, if you can instead manage your priorities and expectations, you are more likely to succeed at managing your public speaking anxieties.

Some of the progressive expectations you can have for yourself include,

  • To speak freely with sincerity
  • To have a good networking session
  • To share your expertise with love
  • To teach a good knowledge

Public speaking anxiety is manageable and definitely not something that you have to suffer in silence with. Usually, all it takes is a bit of perspective framing coupled with practical techniques to help you out.

Why Nice Guys Finish Last and Finish Best?

When I was growing up, the phrase “Nice guys like you will always finish last,” kept cropping up like some bad karma. It is not hard to figure out at which phase of my life, this statement made its appearance. Yeaps, you got it right. The dating phase of my life. The phase where people looked at my pimpled face and the book I was holding, and was able to give me a dating diagnosis.

It did not help also that during that phase, I did not have barrels of confidence stocked up in my warehouse of self esteem. To me, being reclusive and protected from interactions, were the best ways to slide though my growing years.

So why would nice guys finish last? Or for that matter, nice girls too? I mean, that for every Forrest Gump, there was the equivalent Ugly Betty right? The perennial examples of chivalry and niceties. Yet always slacked into thinking that whatever they did were never good enough.

Growing up and trying to find a road map towards dating success was tough. It did not mean that I did not have girl friends. It just meant that those girls looked at me as a treasure chest for their whines and cries of dismays, when the bad boys cocked up their lives. Tears wet my shoulders every single time. As I lent both corners or my anatomy to the whirlpool of emotions. I was, as what they called me then, “My best guy friend.”

So question is, “Are nice guys really doomed?”

The answer is a convincing, “No.”

Having been at the end of that tormenting statement for eons, I realized that it is pretty much untrue.

By all accounts, nice guys can finish last, yet finish best.

Here’s 3 reasons why I know so.

Maturity Takes Time

Women for all the fickleness that they may display sometimes, are still pretty much grounded. They prefer stability over anything else. They may be entertained and whipped into delight, yet they still wanna have that assurance that they can come home and cozy up. And when they visualize that in their minds, they can only picture that with a man who is nice. Nice enough to prepare drinks. Nice enough to massage their weary feet. Nice enough to have a sensible and thoughtful conversation. In other words, the it may take a while for a woman to appreciate that, but trust me, they will. And that means, you will probably be the last person on their mind. Yet, you will win them over.

Being Nice Is A Necessity

Too much emphasis has been placed on the fact that being nice will place you on the path of being taken advantage of. While that may be true in some context, it is however an exception to the norm. People still value the traits of being gentlemanly, being thoughtful, being polite, being patient and being accommodating. While there are man/woman who will manipulate of twist circumstances to assure their leading positions, it usually does not last. Don’t think too much into it. That’s how the Universe works. Being nice may slow your progress or delay the intended gratifications. Yet, time and time again, history has shown that being nice brings you places. People generally will trust you. People will place competency over flamboyance. People will value your nice traits over flashy displays of ego. Being nice may make you arrive last. But you will arrive with assurance.

Happy Endings Are True

The movie “Little Nicky” starring Adam Sandler resonates strongly with this point. In this story, Lil’ Nicky was manipulated by his jealous and overbearing brothers into relinquishing his possible ascension as the favorite son of the Devil. Lil Nicky was just a nice and cuddly antithesis to the Devil himself. Yet at the end of the movie, due to his inexplicable nice nature, he was always triumphing over the evil deeds his brothers had planned out. He got support and assistance from everyone who connected with him.

The point I am making here is that, if you are a nice person, your chances of perhaps being successful is nearer to the 100% mark, compared to if you are not nice to even begin with. Nice people may be overlooked. Nice people may be disregarded. Nice people may be misrepresented. Yet nice people are also the ones who create the best outcomes for any situation.

Nice people play the long game. Yet they always will want to play a good and satisfactory game. So while they may walk out of the field last, they will also be the most happiest and contented.

Why You Must Flick Your Own Switch

cold, smooth & tasty.

As a communication coach, one of the issues I face with my clients, is the lack of self confidence. While it may sound cliched, the fact is, not everyone has confidence issues when it comes to communication. Some just need clarity or direction. Most need organization. A few need delivery guidance.

In any case, the root problem of self confidence is usually due to the fear of judgement. The assumption that we will be judged for wanting to express. The assumption that we will be chastised for wanting to share. The assumption that we will be frowned upon for wanting to deliver a message.

Heck. The truth is, we are our hardest and harshest critics when it comes to wanting to express and communicate. We overthink, over rationalize and over sensationalize our ideas. As a result, we become fearful which leads to irrational sense of non confidence.

So how can we manage this sense of irrational freeze in thoughts and expressions?

I suggest, to begin your day by talking to the man in the mirror. Yes, to yourself.

Now, I can already hear that dumb chuckle of yours, You are already judging yourself by saying, “I am not gonna by stupid and talk to myself.” Who said that talking to the mirror, was a barometer of intelligence? Nobody did. Yet, you affirmed yourself with that overbearing judgement that, people who do this simple exercise is dumb.

Bear with me.

There is a news factory operating in your head every single day. Every single minute in fact. A PR and marketing agency that works non stop to feed your mind with information and details. Most of the news that come through the factory and agency are unfiltered. Who is the editor, you ask. Well it is you of course. And like any hardworking editor, sometimes you get tired, take a break, yet news is still being generated. And like most news agency, sometimes you have news coming in from external sources. Or what I will term as, people’s comments and views about you. Some can be validated, most cannot.

What is some of the news that you decided to publish about yourself as a manifested personality was a result of an unverified news, brought about by someone else. Someone probably mocked the way you spoke, or how unclear you were at pronouncing some words or how slow you read. And because of that, you told yourself, that they were right. Which led to the manifestation of a non confident you. When in fact, there was nothing absolutely wrong with how you spoke.

Flick Your Own Switch

Confidence should be a built in switch. A switch embedded so deeply that the only person who can flick it, should be you. Or the man in the mirror (you). You should not allow anyone for that matter to be able to come willfully and flick that switch on and off for you.

I always share with my clients that it took me years to build the internal wiring of my confidence switch. Understand the intricacies of that wiring, to know what can trigger a trip or what can blow it over. So that only I will know how to maintain of fix it should something happen. Like a confidence short circuit.

Install Your Confidence Circuit Breaker

A circuit breaker is an automatically operated electrical switch designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by excess current from an overload or short circuit. Its basic function is to interrupt current flow after a fault is detected. Wikipedia

Whenever my clients tell me that they are not confident, the first question I ask is, “Is that a feeling, a feedback or a thought?”

What is the difference, you ask.

If the non confidence is a feeling, then I will address the emotions that is tied to that state of mind. It might be fear, disappointment, sense of hopelessness or just unexplained emotions.

If the non confidence is a feedback, then I will address the intentions and purposes of that feedback. It might be a careless remark on someone’s part or just a criticism that has no basis.

If the non confidence is a thought, then I will address the rationale and processes that culminated into that thinking. It might be unfulfilled goals, poor coping and management systems.

These 3 questions should be your circuit breaking questions to halt your slide into total confidence breakdown. If you are able to isolate each question (wiring) in its proper place, you are well equipped to address you confidence issues all year round.