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Five Favorite Cures for Public Speaking Anxiety

Posted by Amy Ullman

Mar 22, 2013, 8:30 AM

I was inspired by this awesome article from the Harvard Extension School on conquering your fear of Fear-Of-Public-Speakingpublic speaking. One of the biggest reservations that prospective speakers voice is the fear of so-called failure. They see more seasoned speakers, and immediately think "I could never do that!" On the contrary, my friends! You most certainly can! You are a bright, creative snowflake with a unique point of view worth sharing! So don't be selfish: read on for 5 quick tips on how you can slay the savage beast that is speaking anxiety.

1. Always have a supportive face in the crowd.

Be they friend, colleague, or family member just knowing that there is someone in the audience that is rooting for you and wants you to succeed can offer a tremendous boost of confidence. So do what you can to make sure that happens:

  • Send out an invite well in advance to notify friends about your prospective speech.
  • Scan the roster of attendees in advance to see if you can find a familiar face.
  • If you are lucky enough to find someone, try to coordinate with them to make sure that they are front and center come game time!

2. Prepare in advance....

One of the most effective cures for speaking anxiety is to be prepared. Rehearsing a few times in advance, either with a mentor, friend, or family can go a long way in order to make you feel confident in regards to the subject matter. Don't have anyone handy the night before? Practice in front of a mirror (no, I am not kidding). Even if you know it in your head, actually forcing yourself to get up and practice in advance will go a long way to cure your jitters. No matter how sloppy, any advance prep work will be an asset come game time.

3. But not too much!

In the words of Voltaire, "Perfect is the enemy of good."  Writing out a very detailed speech and then attempting to memorize it verbatim, can often backfire. Putting additional pressure on yourself to not only get up in front of an audience and speak, but also memorize a script is often a recipe for disaster. Or at the very least result in you being a slave to your notes.

4. Deep breathing

Yes, I'm serious! This tried and true advice exists for a reason - it really works. I'm not suggesting that you should start rocking the Ujjayi breath mid-speech (although I could recommend some awesome HubSpot yogis and yoginis who would be happy to help with that), but employing this technique prior to go time can definitely make a difference. Additionally, if you find yourself struggling for words, use that opportunity to pause, breathe and regroup. It might feel like an eternity, but remember that silence is golden and can add power to your words.

5. What's the worst that can happen?

They're all going to laugh at you? You humiliate yourself in front of your peers? Not a chance! No speech is perfect. No matter how gifted the delivery there is always room for improvement. So sit back and relax and get excited about the chance to express yourself.

Not only is a little anxiety normal, it is healthy (and Forbes agrees with us!). In the words of Mark Twain, “There are two kinds of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.” Even the most poised speakers still get nervous from time to time, especially when they embarked on the first few speeches. Oftentimes a little bit of anxiety can work to your advantage, providing an edgy snap, crackle, and pop of energy to your presentation. So use it to your advantage!

Want a chance to conquer your public speaking anxiety once and for all? Join us the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month in Benioff for a HubSpot Toastmasters meeting. Want a little more information before you attend? Feel free to reach out to a mentor.

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Welcome to the ToastSpot blog!

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