Most of us have felt it… that lump in our throat, sweaty palms, heart racing, trembling voice… having to speak in public! Whether it’s giving a presentation in front of a group of people, speaking up in a meeting, or even conversation in a group of acquaintances, 74% of the population suffers from Glossophobia, the fear of speaking in public! Studies have indicated that the fear of public speaking is found to be a more pressing concern than death. Since speaking in public is something that many of us will most likely have to do at some point in our life, whether it’s a sales pitch or just engaging with an audience, how do we get to the point where we don’t feel like we’re going to pass out due to fear? The good news is that this fear can be overcome!
Fear of public speaking comes down to social evaluation, the fear of being judged, criticized, or rejected. This emotion of fear triggers our fight or flight response, which is a psychological reaction that mimics the response of a serious threat. This is a normal response that many people have experienced including Warren Buffet, Joel Osteen & Mahatma Gandhi. Anxiety coach, Dr. David Carbonell, suggests focusing on the acronym A.W.A.R.E. to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety due to public speaking.
Acknowledge & Accept
-We want to accept the knowledge that we are afraid and not to fight the feeling. We want to work with the feelings, not against it.
Wait & Work
-We may feel the urge to avoid the scenario however it is beneficial to stay engaged and keep moving forward.
-When we are stressed our breathing tends to become shallow and short. We want to focus on deep breathing exercises where when we inhale we can see our belly go out, and when exhale we see our belly go in.
-Identify the parts of our body that get the most tense. To help release this tension we want to start by tensing up these areas of our body, then relaxing them.
-Preparation can also be an important part in reducing stress. The more we prepare and the more confident we feel about what we are speaking about the less anxiety we feel.
– Stay in the present! When we feel stress and anxiety it is due to us fearing something bad happening to us in the future or thinking about the past.
-If it does not go exactly how we planned or how we would have liked for it to go, try again. Try not to get discouraged. Once we know what steps to take the more we practice the easier it gets.
-Eventually our symptoms of anxiety will start to subside and we have the potential to overcome our fears and become a very successful speaker
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Author: Stephanie Booth, MS has her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University and is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at Total Life Counseling Center in Orlando where our relationship and marriage experts specialize in depression & anxiety and can be reached at (407) 248-0030