You might feel helpless when it comes to speaking anxiety.
I know the feeling because I faced the same anxiety at one time too.
My quick story
10 years ago I was a process engineer in the Biotech Industry – I had to overcome my speaking fear in order to change my career to a professional speaker. It took me a long time to build my confidence and get over my fear of speaking.
I think with the right resources in place it should not take years, not even months.
That’s why I put the list of tips below (All from my personal experiences). Hopefully, it will give you a quick relief.
Here is the list of 7 tips to get you started right away on this.
Get checked out by a Doctor
99.9% of the time, your speaking fear is psychological. However, sometimes it’s physical. Make an appointment with your doctor and get checked out. Sometimes Thyroid, depression, and general anxiety disorders can be causing your speaking anxiety. Once you get checked out and you know that you are physically well get started on the psychological side.
I started telling my clients about this because one of our trainers here at MagneticSpeaking had Thyroid issues and if it was not under control it caused him extreme anxiety on stage.
I found that meditating for 2 times a day for 10 minutes helps me keep calm throughout the day. The meditation has the great side benefit of reducing your speaking anxiety in front of people. It does this by emptying your metaphorical anxiety bucket so that you can handle more stage time before the anxiety overflows.
I personally meditate for at least 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. I know that doing more will be even more beneficial, but for me 2 x 10 minutes daily works.
I have to admit that I am a complete hypocrite with this one. Let’s just say that I try to exercise all the time, but that doesn’t happen.
I am sharing this tip with you because I know that it makes a huge difference for me when I do exercise. Just like meditation, exercising builds your anxiety stamina by reducing the baseline anxiety chemicals in your system; It creates more room in your system to handle the stress build up before and during your presentations.
Plus, I found that exercise get’s me comfortable with elevated heart rates so that it does not bother me on stage as much. I found that even doing just 10 minutes/day is enough – I walk around our office in San Francisco and climb the flight of steps several times in the morning to get my exercise (nothing else during the week). My personal goal is to become more consistent with exercise.
Create a speaking vision for yourself
From one-on-one sessions with clients, I know that people develop an obsession with anxiety. Unfortunately, this makes anxiety worse. Creating a vision for yourself beyond the anxiety-state takes your mind off the anxiety and starts developing new neural pathways for expressing yourself with confidence.
Take a few minutes and imagine yourself as a confident, powerful, and competent speaker. Once you get an image of that, write down what you see. It should be an exciting process. I get goose bumps as I do this exercise and I get an excellent feeling.
Do this on a daily basis and every time try to glean the feeling even more. In the beginning, you will notice that you can hold on to the good feeling for few seconds. Over time you will be able to keep it longer. Build it up your ability to hold the feeling for at least a minute.
This will start a new and positive feeling association in your brain to public speaking – instead of the old anxiety state.
Create a new vision of your audience
One of the reasons people get anxious is because they put themselves in the limelight. Great speakers are not self-centric; they are audience centric, which means they focus their energy and attention on their audience.
Take few minutes and imagine your audience after a great presentation you give. Notice, if they are happy, if they are smiling, and if they are nodding? Write down what you see. If you get an image of a difficult audience member, just shake it off and re-focus on a positive and receptive one. (This is like meditation, and it requires practice to get better at focusing on the good).
Just like with the previous exercise you have to do this on a daily basis – the result will be amazing after few weeks.
Build a bigger identity
Answer this question before you continue reading: what do you do?
Serious, answer it out loud: ___________________
Most likely you answered with a profession: I am an engineer, I am a project manager, I am a director, I am an account manager, etc.
Notice that we take our profession as our identity. It starts innocently as a functional description for convenience, but later we believe it – And that’s when the problems begin.
My identity for a while was an “Engineer.” That was one of the biggest obstacles for me to overcome. Because every time I presented at a conference, at an executive retreat, or at training, I pretend to be a professional speaker when in fact I saw myself on the inside as an engineer.
That had to change. I developed a new identity. I am now a leader. A leader is a bigger identity than a job title and gives me a lot of confidence when I speak. Don’t get me wrong, I still have the engineer identity in there, but it’s not the dominant identity; it is a subordinate identity.
Get busy and get super productive
One of my early public speaking coaches said, ” The idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” I don’t know where she got that from, but it resonated with me. I noticed that the more free time I had, the more I worried about my speaking anxiety, and then the more anxiety I felt.
A vicious cycle! To break from it, I got busy.
My recommendation for you is to get busy too – as a result, you will forget about the speaking anxiety, and it will fade into the background fast. So get a hobby, take classes, start a business, learn French, or take your significant other to a play. I am sure there are plenty of things to do. Just do them.
Notice that I also said get super productive – the success feeling you get from being productive will boost your confidence. So don’t just watch the whole season of Game of Thrones and consider that busy/productive (Yes it’s important to watch for fun but do other things for your career, business, and family too). For me, being productive reminds of being successful, which is the opposite of what anxiety reminds me off – And I like to be reminded of success and the feelings associated with success.
So there are your quick tips to increase you speaking confidence starting today.
How about you? What’s your favorite tip? Let me know in the comments!