CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? MANAGING SPEECH ANXIETY
Sitting in the wings of the theatre stage waiting to be introduced for your speech, sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, all sorts of uncomfortable stress symptoms. You hear your name, the audience clapping, you walk out to the stage and the audience gasps, whoops, cheer and you realize you’re naked. Then you wake up drenched in sweat.
You were dreaming about your speech to be delivered the next evening.
Also known as stage fright, everyone suffers from speech anxiety of some form or another. Deep breathing exercises and picturing the audience in the skivvies actually do help you maintain control when you are the center of attention. These stress relievers are used by actors and politicians, who always need to seem cool under scrutiny, and can easily work for you.
Loosening the Grip of Speech Anxiety
People fear speeches mainly because of the audience and not wanting to look like a failure in front of them. The first step to minimize speech anxiety is to know your audience and prepare the speech according to what they will understand best.
The speech should be in the simplest of words. Try to memorize the concepts and the flow of topics, rather than memorizing words. Difficult concepts may be simplified and put in front of the audience with the help of visual aids, like PowerPoint or over head projectors.
The most important technique to prevent speech anxiety is to practice, practice and practice some more. Knowing your speech well, will give you the confidence needed to ace the speech. Practice should be done on your own, in front of a mirror and then a fake audience. Often people, video tape their speech to review it later and improve anything lacking.
Before the actual day of the speech, exercise to refresh yourself, have a proper meal and dress in your best clothes to boost your confidence. Avoid wearing high heeled shoes or tight fitting clothes as something uncomfortable could distract you from your speech.
The best way to start a speech is slowly and clearly. Try to remain as calm as you can, breathing deeply in between topics. Give yourself a break in between as you go to the projector or screen.
The symptoms of speech anxiety may begin all of a sudden. If you feel the onset of blushing, sweating or you feel your heart racing, pause for a minute, recollect your thoughts and continue as if nothing has happened. Practicing this act will bring you to a stage when you will be in total control of your speech.
Jump the Hurdle of Speech Anxiety
Though almost everyone has experienced speech anxiety sometime in their life, there are few people who have been overcome by speech anxiety to such an extent they totally avoid any situation where they might have to give a speech. Often, this phobia of public speaking takes over their personality and makes them lose out on great opportunities in life.
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