How to Overcome Anxiety and Fear of Public Speaking?
Posted On June 17, 2022
(Last Updated On: June 17, 2022)
What is the Fear of Public Speaking? What are the reasons for this? How to overcome anxiety and fear of public speaking? Fear of public speaking may paralyze you… In front of a large crowd… You’re undoubtedly familiar with the sensation. You may labor for weeks, learning the information and practicing your presentation. You make an effort to dismiss your uneasiness. Then there’s the big moment… You head to the concession booth… You stammer because your throat is dry… You have an empty feeling in your head.
What’s going on with you? This vexing condition is known as Public Speaking Fear.
This dread, often known as a phobia, is not unique to you. According to recent surveys, over 40% of the population suffers from a severe phobia of public speaking. Almost everyone is afraid of public speaking to some extent.
The fear of public speaking appears to afflict virtually everyone at some point, whether it is in front of ten people or a full auditorium. Even the most experienced public speakers can grow jittery before a big speech.
The effects of nervousness range from just “not being your best” during the speech to being unable to begin the speech and, in some situations, even experiencing nightmares and an overall sense of ineptitude.
Symptoms of this dread might include:
- Rapid heartbeats
- Shaky hands
- Shortness of breath
- Blank mind
- Feel of freezing
- Sweaty hands
Despite the fact that you may hear and read about different reasons and factors that produce and affect Public Speaking Fear, I will split the causes of this “fear” into two categories: historical and experience-based.
1.1 Factors with a long history
Consider human beings in the past, when we lived in tiny groups. Fears were instilled in us throughout those periods, which helped humanity live. A human tribe would have between 30 to 100 members, with a single (male) leader in most cases. This tribal chief used to be the authority and was crucial to the tribe’s existence. Consider what would happen if one of the tribe’s simplest members organized a speech in front of the entire tribe. This would be seen by the tribe’s leader as an attempt to seize control over the group. The death sentence is a regular punishment for this.
In the past, public speaking was exceedingly perilous.
According to studies, this historical explanation is the fundamental reason why we are so terrified of public speaking.
“Evolutionary Psychology” is a discipline of psychology that deals with issues like these. The most crucial thing to remember is that irrationality is a key cause of your dread. You can’t express it in our world’s words. The genuine answer can only be found by visualizing the world as it was 10,000 years ago.
1.2 Factors depending on prior experience
In addition to the psychological elements that contribute to your fear of public speaking, there are also personal considerations to consider.
Because we communicate with someone else when we speak, the way we utilize language in our lives is termed “conversation.” Our neurological system is so accustomed to conversing that we don’t see all of the internal processes that occur when we’re speaking. We can focus our entire attention on the dialogue because it is done automatically.
Because we are inexperienced, any new and unknown activity that we attempt will suddenly feel scary. We have no idea how to use our voices. We have no idea how to look someone in the eyes, how to stand, or how to use our hands. Even the exact language patterns that we need to utilize during speaking are unfamiliar to us – and there is a distinct technique to use language throughout a speech.
Another part of experience-based causes is dread, which is triggered by prior events. An unpleasant or traumatic event in the past when speaking in front of a group can also instill dread.
Thus, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned so far. Fear of public speaking is a bad emotion that causes us to perform poorly while speaking in front of an audience. It might even stop us from giving the speech in the first place.
We’ve addressed the two basic causes of this phobia. The first is based on our collective human experience, which is why we are sometimes scared of public speaking. The second reason is that our own personal encounters with the world lead to anxieties and beliefs.
1.3 Fears that are logical and those that are irrational
Before we can address our fear of public speaking, we must first comprehend how we perceive our anxiety.
Fears that we can rationalize are those that we are afraid of something that may bring genuine harm (physically or emotionally).
The following are some examples of logical fears:
- People who are dangerous (a person holding a knife, a murderer, etc.)
- Perilous circumstances (fire, earthquake, floods, etc.)
- Activities that are dangerous (Skiing, walking on a rope, etc.)
We can see now that dread of some behaviors is regarded as justified since they provide an actual threat. Some worries are beneficial. Fear is beneficial in and of itself; it aids in our survival.
On the other hand, irrational fears are anxieties that do not help us live, but rather prohibit us from being our best.
For example, if we are bitten by a dog once, we may develop a lifelong phobia of dogs. If we were scared on a dark night, we may develop a phobia of darkness.
As you can see, our fear mechanism isn’t flawless, and we need to work on it if we want to overcome our anxieties.
Fears that are based on logic should be retained and even promoted. Irrational anxieties, rather than protecting us, can often bring us harm. It’s natural to want to get rid of unfounded anxieties.
1.4 Is it rational to be afraid of public speaking?
Is it possible to be harmed by public speaking? As previously said, public speaking has the potential to hurt you in the past. Fear used to be a very logical emotion. This dread was handed to us through what we term “Evolutionary Psychology” since it was sensible for hundreds of thousands of years.
Is the fear of public speaking still logical today? So, let me tell you some hypothetical scenarios in which public speaking might be harmful. You may experience emotional terror if you speak in front of a hostile crowd. If you’re a gangster and try to talk in front of your comrades, you might face physical violence.
Public speaking, on the other hand, is usually absolutely safe. There’s no reason to be terrified of speaking in front of your classmates, and what about introducing your new product to your customers?
As a result, Public Speaking is entirely illogical in today’s environment.
2. In a nutshell, how do you get over your fear?
It’s critical to recognize, remember, and believe that the fear of public speaking is illogical in order to conquer it.
We shall examine two techniques for conquering fear in this manual:
Working on the processes that occur in our brain that we are not aware of, as well as our belief system. Those techniques are intended to lessen or even eliminate fear.
Tactics- Specific techniques and approaches can assist you in overcoming your fear of public speaking, even if you still have it.
To tell you the truth, if you only employ strategies, gain more experience, and work on your confidence, you will improve. You’ll get desensitized to your dread. However, you will still feel nervous before giving a speech. It will be less powerful, but it will always exist.
Consider your mind to be a computer. It’s a complex machine, but it’s still a computer. We can’t keep track of how many programs it executes. Some of these are conscious processes that we are aware of. The remainder of the processes, for the most part, go unnoticed by us; they are subconscious processes.
When you give a public speech, your brain goes through two stages. The first is optimistic and says, “Go deliver a speech,” whereas the second is negative and says, “No, you can’t.”
It is possible to work to eradicate fear! It is possible to accomplish so by employing fear-reduction techniques. It includes dealing with your subconscious mind since it’s a subconscious process (unless you actively want to be fearful…).
I’ll go through the most prevalent approaches in the following chapter. Hypnosis, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic-Programming), and working on your belief system are among them.
The other option is to use learning approaches, which will not eradicate your fear but will assist you in dealing with it. It has a good effect in that it improves your public speaking skills and hence your ability to deal with anxiety. I’ll never get rid of my fear, but it will make public speaking easier.
Personally, I think it’s a good idea to employ it in tandem with subconscious work. Simply understanding the skills will not enable you to talk at your best, and every speech will remain a challenge.
3. Using your subconscious mind as a tool
3.1 Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) Techniques
NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is a behavioral technology that consists of a collection of guiding concepts, attitudes, and procedures for dealing with real-world situations.
It provides you the power to select your mental, emotional, and physical states of well-being by allowing you to modify, adopt, or remove habits as you like.
I won’t go into too much detail regarding NLP because it is a full theory. Personally, I like NLP to work with subconscious processes because, unlike the other approaches I’ll explain in the book, NLP is simple to understand and apply. It is not necessary to have knowledge of psychology or medicine.
According to NLP, our mind is similar to a computer in several ways. It’s running a variety of applications. Although many of them are unconscious (for example, fear), it teaches us how to eradicate or at the very least lessen them if we do want.
What exactly are these procedures? Our minds function with three senses (we have five total, but only three are truly important): visual (eyes), auditory (ears), and kinesthetic (feet) (feelings). During procedures, everyone employs just one of the three.
Some people have a visual perception of the world; they view it through their eyes. Others are auditory, meaning they hear with their ears. Others, on the other hand, are primarily kinesthetic, understanding the world via feelings.
If you are a visual person, for example, you view the world primarily via your eyes. As a result, there is a visual process (or processes) that causes you to be afraid of public speaking.
Now I’ll tell you a short story about one of my friends. He used to be terrified of giving a speech in front of an audience. His hands would tremble, his speech would shift, and his heart rate would increase dramatically. When I asked him what was causing his worry, he said he would envision himself making a horrible speech.
He saw people laughing at him, he saw himself standing without remembering what to say, and so on in those visual images. Those images were beyond his control. He was unable to make them vanish.
What’s going on? In his head, his thinking is “viewing” a movie. Do you recall seeing a particularly frightening film? Were there any scenes in that movie that made you feel truly scared? Despite the fact that it was only a movie, and you were well aware that it was only a movie?
My friend had the same thing. The movie, and the images, were the source of the terror. Whether the movie is true or not, our subconscious mind reacts in the same manner.
Traditional psychology seeks to understand the “roots” of fear. It tries to figure out what caused it in the first place. Instead, NLP offers a simple and quick solution. We can’t exclude the root since, as we stated in the first chapter, the explanation might be as far back as our human history.
So, let’s see how we handle our apprehension.
For those who are visually oriented
If you’re a visual person, you’re probably thinking of a movie. Try to figure out what movie you’re watching:
– Is it a black-and-white picture? Do you perceive colors or do you see shapes?
– Is it silky or rough?
– Is it moving at a snail’s pace or at a breakneck speed?
– Can you see it in greater detail?
– Are you looking at it from the first or third position?
Let’s return to the example of my friend:
He then used to imagine himself giving a speech and seeing the audience laughing. He became aware of his embarrassment…
Now I invited him to sit quietly in front of me, and we began deciphering what he saw together.
It was through his own eyes that he saw himself standing and making a speech, what we term “first position.” He saw it in black and white, with tremendous clarity. He could recognize people in the crowd and knew exactly what was going on.
Your mind produces a big terror when you see this video looping over and over in your thoughts. Even though you realize it’s only a movie, it still has the same effect on you.
You can’t resist your thoughts, which is a solid foundation in NLP. “No! I’m not terrified,” you can’t just say. Your mind will refuse to accept it, and you will continue to watch the film.
What you can do, though, is modify the video, add effects, and even change the perspectives. It may seem impossible to you, yet it is feasible.
So, what I did next was tell him to put the movie in third place. I urged him to watch the movie from the side as if he were standing near the action.
He was seeing himself there, as well as the throng, in this manner. Now, I advised him to shoot the movie from a distance, as if he were watching it on television. I advised him to start pulling the movie away from him so that this “television” appeared to be far away. He could now see himself out in the distance. Because the picture was so far away, he couldn’t discern details anymore…
Do you see what we’ve done here? We won’t be able to stop the movie, but we can manipulate it. The film was now considerably less terrifying. It was almost as though some faint notion had entered my mind…
I told him this technique again the next time he was preparing to give a public address. After a few viewings, the film no longer bothered him. Fear had almost vanished.
He can now concentrate on the words, on the meaning, when he speaks. The terror has vanished.
NLP provides a rapid remedy for visual individuals, which is to make the visual process less prominent and clear. Make it something that is far away and does not disturb you.
What if you’re an auditory person?
For those who are auditory learners
So, now that we know how to cope with visual people’s fear of public speaking, you might wonder, “What if I’m an auditory person?”
We need to weaken the auditory mechanism that causes dread in auditory persons. What exactly is this auditory procedure? Usually, it’s a sound or a voice. You may be telling yourself things like, “No, I can’t do that…” or “Those people are going to laugh at me…”, or you may hear others laughing or yelling at you.
We can’t make the sound “smaller” as we could with the visual process, but we can weaken it. There are a few possibilities. Making some variations in the voice is the one I’ll talk about here: Instead of hearing it as it is, make it sound amusing. For example, give it a kid voice. I also enjoy giving it a seductive tone.
When you change the voice to a different pitch, it no longer sounds terrifying. You could, on the other hand, find yourself laughing and smiling instead! Try it now: within your head, create a serious, terrifying voice that sounds amusing, infantile, or sensual.
What resources are available to help you learn more about NLP?
We just looked at a few examples of how NLP may be used to overcome fear. Of course, there are more options, such as adding effects to your mental movies, background music, or whatever else you find effective in conquering the internal processes that cause your dread.
NLP, on the other hand, may be applied in a variety of methods and strategies to help you develop your talents. You can improve your communication skills, your love life, your money, and your efficiency. It’s a combination of tactics and procedures that can help you enhance your life in general and successfully regulate your thoughts.
If we’re talking about public speaking, NLP may help you make your message clear, understandable, and acceptable to the audience.
NLP is a very new technology that is still being developed. I recommend that you make time to learn more about it. You can look at our page to see how we recommend learning NLP.
3.2. Belief Systems
Our belief system is often the source of our dread. Belief is more powerful than information, and our vision of the world is shaped by our set of beliefs.
Most of the time, we can’t actually substantiate what we believe. God’s belief is a fantastic example, but practically all of our beliefs are not absolute.
We can’t show whether or not some views are correct. We CAN, however, identify if they are beneficial to us or if they assist us in achieving our objectives.
When it comes to Public Speaking Fear, there are a few misconceptions that may be to blame. According to research, the following is the most prevalent idea that directly promotes fear:
Limiting Belief- “It is normal to be afraid of or anxious about giving a speech.”
Consider the following: Do you agree with this? Do you think it’s natural or acceptable to be afraid of public speaking?
You most likely do.
Why? Most likely as a result of your personal experiences, as well as what society teaches.
But, are you convinced that being terrified is “Normal”? Why? It’s only a matter of opinion. And it’s that notion that’s producing the terror because you’re expecting it.
Changing this belief will be far more empowering. Instead, you should recognize that public speaking anxiety is not “Normal.” You’re well aware that it’s an unreasonable dread. Nothing is normal in this place.
“Public speaking relaxes and energizes me,” says an empowering belief.
Do you realize how shifting your beliefs affect how you respond to and see life? You select a powerful belief over believing that you are supposed to feel fearful.
Is this motivating concept “Real”? Many people all across the world are not afraid of public speaking. Instead, they take pleasure in it. You have the option of believing whatever you choose. Personally, I think you should go with the more empowering option.
Here are some additional beliefs to consider letting go of:
“It’s nice to feel nervous”—what the hell is going on here? Why is that beneficial? It’s beneficial to feel at ease. That is a severely restrictive viewpoint.
“Public Speaking is something you either have or don’t have” – a bad belief held by many individuals, not just when it comes to public speaking. It is possible to learn and enhance almost any talent. This belief will only keep you from progressing. Nobody is born with the ability to speak in public.
“You can’t overcome public speaking fear”—I can offer you so many real-life examples (including myself) of people who have successfully overcome public speaking anxiety.
“Your audience wants you to fail”- On the contrary, because most individuals are terrified of public speaking and many have attempted it before, your “courage” to stand and talk will be admired. People come to hear you speak because they want you to be successful.
Building an empowering belief system is a terrific method to achieve success in life. The key is to realize that you have the power to choose what you believe. If this piques your curiosity, I recommend that you read some of my essays on belief systems.
Hypnosis is thought to be a strong method for conquering fears. It works directly with the subconscious mind, creating the necessary “changes” in order to train your mind to be fearless.
Hypnosis can be done with a therapist or, more commonly these days, with an audio or video that performs a similar function.
Hypnosis can be a useful technique, but the issue I have with it is that you don’t really know what the therapy is about and have no control over it.
Unlike NLP, you can’t do it on your own, and you can’t pick and choose which treatments to use.
You can, on the other side, be unconcerned with acquiring and perfecting techniques. You simply receive the treatment and don’t give a damn what it does. If it works, you will no longer be afraid. This is the ideal answer for certain folks.
If it sounds and feels right for you, have a look at my product reviews (some of them are totally free).
4. External work – effectively coping with fear
In the last chapter, we spoke about how to get over your fear of public speaking and get rid of it.
As a result, this chapter is pointless, isn’t it? Well, there’s a chance…
Even if you employ the approaches we mentioned (I recommend NLP), you may still be afraid of public speaking.
Many people refuse to believe that self-work may help them overcome their fears. I don’t agree, but I can respect their convictions. If you feel that the only way to attain success is via hard effort, I embrace that and will show you how to practice dealing with fear.
In this chapter, I’ll give you some brief advice on how to deal with your fear. I’ll break them down into two groups: what to do before the speech and what to do during the speech.
Always keep in mind that practice makes perfect. You’ll improve as you put what I’ve said here into practice, perhaps rather quickly. However, you must continue to practice.
Unlike previous instructions, I will not provide you with a comprehensive list of suggestions. No one can possibly use all of them. Only the finest were chosen.
4.1 Before the speech, what should you do?
You don’t have to be flawless to be successful.
People are apprehensive about giving public speeches because they are fearful of making blunders. Anxiety over making mistakes, on the other hand, makes mistakes more probable.
Accepting that you are not flawless and that mistakes are inevitable is the best approach to dealing with them. Instead of being terrified, you can now utilize your errors to learn from them and better in the future.
Visualize a successful outcome
We feel worried before a speech for a variety of reasons, one of which is that we imagine the speech and expect something bad to happen. This may even be something we do unconsciously.
As a result, visualizing the speech, this time in a positive light, is a fantastic method to deal with our anxieties. Consider how you felt confident and prepared in the minutes leading up to your speech. How do you approach the podium cautiously? How do you start your speech? Make an effort to hear your own words.
Visualizing can help you overcome your own anxieties and send a message to your brain that everything is in order.
Leave the past in the past
Because of prior occurrences, some people suffer from speech anxiety. It might even be an embarrassing experience from the past. The following is a strategy for dealing with similar incidents:
Do it if you can learn from it and develop. If you can’t, put it out of your mind and concentrate on the future.
Instead of increasing your concerns, use errors to learn and progress.
Make sure your tone and voice are in good shape.
Speaking entails the use of one’s voice. If you utilize your voice and rehearse it before the speech, you will become accustomed to speaking and have more confidence in the sound of your voice.
Do not prepare a speech
Writing a whole speech is one of the worst things you can do. It will cause you to focus on the written words rather than the speech.
Instead, merely write highlights and make sure you know what your speech is about and what your important points are.
As a result, the page you’re holding will merely serve as a guide, and you’ll be able to focus on the speech.
4.2 What to do in the middle of the speech
Always remember to take a deep breath
The muscles in the chest and throat tighten as a result of anxiety. Your voice might squeak if your airway is limited and you don’t get enough oxygen. Deep breathing, on the other hand, gives oxygen to the lungs and brain while also relaxing the throat and chest. Take a deep breath and relax as you reach the platform. It will also help you think more clearly. Whenever you feel worried throughout the speech, remember to take a deep breath – it will instantly calm you down.
Keep an eye out for friendly faces
During the speech, you may notice a huge number of individuals in the audience. You could be perplexed by this. Instead, concentrate on individual faces, preferably nice ones. This will give your subconscious mind the impression that you are conversing with a specific individual. Slowly wander your eyes across the room and stare at various persons during the speech. It will also give the impression that you are conversing with the audience rather than simply making a speech.
Put an end to it
Isn’t it difficult to come to a complete stop? You pause for a moment after you’ve finished speaking.
That’s fantastic! It allows you time to relax and recall precisely what you meant to say, and it helps you appear comfortable and confident.
Slow down your speech
Many speakers make the error of speaking hastily and swallowing words. It might be that you’re in a hurry to complete your sentence and get it over with. It might also be that if there is a pause, you don’t want to be interrupted by the crowd. Your rapid heartbeat is also a consideration.
Speaking quickly, on the other hand, just adds to your anxiety and leaves you with less time to consider. S-L-O-W-L-Y. Allow yourself time to relax.
5. What should you do next?
In this essay, I discussed the causes behind your Public Speaking Anxiety and the elements that contribute to it. I showed you the several solutions for dealing with it.
We spoke about how to get rid of or at least lessen the dread and worry that our subconscious mind creates.
I recommend learning NLP to help you overcome your fears. It’s a set of tactics and abilities for working on your mind and improving your performance. It also provides you complete control and knowledge of what you’re doing (Unlike psychological treatment or hypnosis).
I taught you the fundamentals of NLP and how to utilize it to overcome your anxieties. I recommend learning and mastering NLP if you want to be truly flawless and discover many additional strategies.
We also spoke about belief systems and hypnosis.
For those of us who like the “hard labor,” I shared my suggestions for dealing with nervousness before and during the speech.
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