Public Speaking Expert
Speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking. It’s considered the biggest fear a person can have, even greater than the fear of death. People who experience speech anxiety feel like passing out every time they have to speak in front of an audience. This can be an unpleasant experience, both physically and emotionally. Successful speakers see these symptoms as a positive sign that they’re mentally prepared for the speech. However, most people interpret these feelings as fear. They often avoid speaking in public because they may be afraid of criticism or failure.
The fear of public speaking can be devastating. Some people experience physical distress, panic attacks, and intense anxiety prior to giving a speech. Even those who speak for a living, including business people, actors, and politicians, experience some degree of anxiety. They also show signs of mild discomfort such as cold chills and sweaty palms. For most people, these symptoms are noticeable especially at the beginning of their presentation. As you speak, they will fade away.
Proper preparation can help reduce this fear by as much as 75 percent. Certain breathing techniques can further reduce these symptoms by 15 percent. It’s important to determine what exactly is causing this fear and how it manifests itself. Are you afraid of going crazy or losing control? Or maybe you’re afraid of fainting? Do you have obsessive thoughts? Are you constantly worrying about upcoming events that involve public speaking? Have you ever experienced severe anxiety, sadness, anger, or guilt before giving a presentation?
People suffering from speech anxiety may also exhibit physical symptoms such as nausea or stomach distress, feeling of choking, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, numbness, muscle soreness, hot flashes, and accelerated heart rate. If you experience most of these symptoms, then you’re probably dealing with public speaking fear. Recall the last time you had to speak in front of an audience. Analyze your feelings carefully. What were your thoughts? What parts of your body were most affected? Were you afraid of criticism?
Learn to control your physical and emotional symptoms – don’t avoid the problem. Identify the root of your fear and then find ways to overcome it. Expecting perfection is unrealistic. Practice your speech until you feel comfortable and self confident. Prepare thoroughly before giving your presentation. Visualize success and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Embrace your fear and use that extra energy to enhance your speech and impress the audience.