March 21, 2022

Try These Tips for Public Speaking Confidence

Written by Rachel Eddins

Posted in Anxiety and with tags: Social Anxiety

woman needing tips for public speaking

Roughly one out of every four people report experiencing glossophobia. For the record, roughly four out of every four people call it “public speaking anxiety.”

It’s commonly related to Social Anxiety Disorder — a very common mental health condition.

Glossophobia manifests in some obvious physical symptoms. These may include tremors, flushing red, shaky voice, dizziness, rapid heart rate, and extreme perspiration.

Lurking behind the physical symptoms is a general sense of dread. People with public speaking anxiety may fret and worry long before the actual event. Such chronic stress only serves to exacerbate the other symptoms. But, you absolutely can learn to manage and control this problem.

The term “stage fright” is used to describe many related issues. Most specifically, it’s a popular way to describe performance anxiety and/or a social anxiety disorder.

Someone with stage fright feels extreme nervousness or even dread when faced with the prospect of doing anything in front of an audience. It doesn’t even have to be a large audience. Any group of people is enough to trigger anxiety. Millions of people — athletes, performers, and everyday people — struggle with performance anxiety.

But, millions of them have also learned ways to control the emotions that lurk beneath the stage fright. Let’s explore a few of those approaches and suggestions.

Tips for Confidence with Public Speaking

What Causes Public Speaking Anxiety?

Of course, situations may vary. You may have solid public speaking experience and thus, you adjust easily. In some cases, it is the specific circumstances of an event that may you uncomfortable. But, more frequently, the causes can be more personal and individual.

Predisposition

Anxiety is a normal warning system and, when functioning properly, it can save your life. That said, some folks are just more likely to struggle with high anxiety levels due to physiological reasons. You may have a stronger predisposition and therefore must put in more work to balance things out.

Previous Experiences

Perhaps you’ve had what you perceived to be a negative public speaking experience. Maybe you’ve witnessed someone else deal with that scenario.

It could just be that you’ve heard all the jokes and myths about public speaking and it scares you. Such thoughts can be the foundation of glossophobia. The longer they go unchecked, the more power they gain.

You may get to the point where you not only worry about public speaking. You also worry about being seen as someone who is worried about public speaking. Fortunately, there are some proven steps you can take…

Try These Tips for Public Speaking Confidence

Get Comfortable With the Setting

Go to public talks. Get a feel for what you like and don’t like. Gauge audience reactions. If there is a Q&A session, challenge yourself to stand up and ask a question. If you are regularly in virtual meetings for work or school, practice asking questions in that setting, too.

Record and Film Yourself Giving a Presentation

Get an idea of what you look and sound like before you step in front of a crowd. It might be particularly helpful to record yourself talking about public speaking. Discuss your goals. Watch the talk and take notes. Repeat this process as often as feels necessary.

Tips for Public Speaking

Practice Talking Slowly

When speaking to a crowd, there is virtually no downside to taking your time. To get into this habit, try talking slowly whenever you tell a story to someone you know well.

Work With Notes

No one wants to hear a speaker read. Practice working with notes and bulleted lists so you can engage with more eye contact. This will engage the audience. It’ll also increase your confidence.

Use Your Nervousness

You don’t have to suppress all of the anxiety. Talk about it. Use it in an opening joke. Reframe it to your audience as excitement.

Take Some Time to Identify the Source of Your Anxiety

People with stage fright often have some factors in common. However, each situation is unique. Do your best to understand the underlying causes. Did you have a bad experience? Has someone told you that you’re not good at things like public speaking?

Deconstructing the causes can take away some of the anxiety’s power. Meeting with a therapist can be super helpful in this process. (I’ll get to that soon.)

Think About Your Audience

It may be a group of classmates in a schoolroom. Just as easily, it could be co-workers attending a presentation of yours. Whatever the situation, take stock of what you know about them. What are they expecting? Why are they in attendance? Do you have to adjust to their experience of knowledge levels?

The better you know your audience, the less stressful it is to connect with them.

Try these Tips for Public Speaking Confidence

Create a Presentation You’re Proud Of

It’s a whole lot easier to feel good about yourself when you’ve crafted a talk or presentation you feel good about. Put in the work on the research and writing end. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Let the audience see how much you know and how ready you are to share it. Imagine yourself in the crowd. Would you be glad you’re there? Would you learn a lot? Are you enjoying the overall presentation?

Approach the entire process with integrity and watch the nervousness decrease.

Seek Out Feedback Afterward

Find a handful of people you can trust to supply honest input after you’re done. Accept that public speaking is a skill. In order to feel comfortable, it helps to improve at that skill.

To improve requires some blunt feedback from others. In particular, seek out those with expertise in areas related to your talk.

Don’t Try to Reinvent the Wheel

Success leaves clues so, find a role model. Find someone whose style appeals to you and see what you can learn from watching them. Spend some time on YouTube, pick up the habits and patterns, and then add in your own touches.

Practice Self-Care man meditating

Practice Self-Care

You’ll want to:

Taking care of yourself will:

  • Give you more resilience against anxiety
  • Create the best version of yourself to perform in front of a crowd

Public speaking is sort of a template for anxiety discussions. Ask someone for an example of a stressful situation. There’s an excellent chance they’ll say something like, “Having to get up and speak in front of a crowd.”

As a result of this cultural tendency, many folks are preemptively freaked out if asked to give a presentation.

Good news: it does not have to be this way. Firstly, we do not have to use public speaking as the standard example of pressure. More importantly, we very much can become adept at and comfortable with giving presentations.

Like anything else, it requires practice and an attitude shift.

Try Visualization

Everyone dreads public speaking so, many of us visualize it going wrong. If our minds are powerful enough to create a negative impact, it only follows that our minds can create positive results, too! Staying cool and confident, after all, is a state of mind.

Tip: When you act calm, you feel calm.

Visualization Basics

Visualization is not a replacement for preparation. You’ll still need to practice, do research, rehearse in front of friends, etc. The more you prepare and practice, the less nervous you will feel about the possibility of being nervous. Visualization, in the meantime, is a parallel track:

Use Your Senses to “Be” There

Call on your imagination to place you at the venue just before the talk begins. It helps if you know what the location looks like but it’s not necessary. Close your eyes and

  • See It: See the location, the audience, etc. through your own eyes. Zero in on specific people or on the design of the carpet or the size of the microphone. See it all and get comfortable being there. Recall this scene as often as you need to during your preparation.
  • Hear It: Someone might be introducing you. The audience is clapping. They’re laughing at your jokes and asking questions during Q&A.
  • Bring In Other Senses: If food and drinks are being served, surely you can smell them. Maybe you’re trying a snack. What does it taste like? What do your notes feel like in your hands or your feet grounded firmly on the stage or platform?
  • Breathe: Return to your breath, over and over. Let it calm and center you. Understand that it will be there during the actual presentation.

Let’s Get a Little More Abstract: Understand Your Audience

While you’re visualizing, it can really help to understand your audience. Here are a few general concepts to remember:

  • Humans size up people upon meeting them. Use this knowledge to practice strong body language. Also, craft your opening statements in a way that commands attention and respect.
  • Set a tone with your tone. It matters less what exact words you use. The audience is picking up and responding to your tone, inflections, pauses, etc. This is where all that practice will pay off.
  • Emotions are contagious. Show them your passion and your confidence. This will almost always result in them listening intently and trusting your words. Be the version of you that you want them to see, hear, and feel.
  • Understand the dynamics. When people show up to hear someone speak, they are expecting to be led. The audience-speaker dynamic is such that it places you in the position to command the room.

Try These Tips for Public Speaking Confidence

Treat the Underlying Anxiety

There is no shortage of public speaking tips. Many of them are powerful. However, if a social anxiety disorder is the root cause, you should talk to a professional. There are many therapeutic approaches that are proven to reduce anxiety.

In the specific case of public speaking anxiety, for example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be a game-changer. Your therapist will help you identify the negative thinking that is holding you back.

There is no reason to take this on alone. Let’s connect. Let’s set you up with a free consultation and move you toward a “cool and confident” presentation mindset.

Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, TX has several experienced therapists that specialize in anxiety treatment. Please contact us by calling 832-243-7524 or booking an appointment online for therapy that can help you to identify the source of your anxiety and make meaningful changes.

Furthermore, we can work together to can help you learn to manage your worries in healthier but still very productive ways.

You absolutely can overcome stage fright! 

Don’t struggle with anxiety alone. Therapy is the path toward healing, recovery, and confidence.

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