Public Speaking Anxiety
It’s not just you. Presentation anxiety stems from one of Americans' most common fears — fear of public speaking. But you have decided that it’s a hurdle you are ready to jump.
You don't want clients (or potential ones) losing confidence in you because of your inability to deliver a concise and clear presentation. Less sales means less money for you and your company.
That’s why it’s essential to give yourself the tools and knowledge to reduce and control presentation anxiety before your hard work falls flat.
No matter the setting, you want to deliver a great presentation that leaves clients craving more of whatever you’re talking about — and, hopefully, whatever you’re selling.
These five tips are designed to put you in control and help you deliver with confidence before you step to the front of the room.
Practice does not make you inauthentic or robotic
Public speaking coach Ellen Finkelstein says that you’ve only got to hit three main points in your introduction to grab your audience's attention:
Who are you?
What are you talking about?
Why is the topic important?
Finkelstein recommends writing out each answer, then revising, and practicing your delivery repeated. Off-the-cuff introductions can leave questions of what to say bouncing in your head at a moment when your trying to make a good impression. It’s best not to leave decisions for the last minute.
Chief executive of communication training provider Communispond, Bill Rosenthal, says rigorous practice will make you a more confident presenter than a inauthentic one. Ever heard of an expert that practiced too much?
From sports to art, seasoned pros are the ones that improvise the best, making the most difficult actions look easily executed. Without practice, you can kiss that level of dominance goodbye.
Make Your Thoughts Your Allies
You’re likely to think you will give a bad presentation instead of the value your audience will get, which only causes further anxiety. But you have the power to direct your thoughts.
Positive reinforcement and visualization are two ways to control the direction those thoughts go.
Communication coach Cher Gunderson explains that positive reinforcement is one of the best mindset shifts you can take on. When start having thoughts that don’t support your success, reframe them to ones that do.
This goes along with visualization techniques that many sales gurus teach — visualize yourself nailing your presentation, or making the sale. Research shows that visualizing an action increases your ability to do it.
Aside from supporting yourself with positive reinforcement, visualizing the outcome that you want from your presentation can help manifest it.
Imagine hearing applause or receiving congrats and thanks yous at the end of your presentation or pitch. These positive images help manifest a positive attitude, which will come out during your presentation. Similarly, if thoughts of worry and fear of failure fill your head, it’ll show.
Studies have shown that visualizing an activity can have the same effect as real-life practice. Moreover, if you visualize and practice in real life, the effect is compounding.
Know When To Lean On Support
In moments of anxiety, wouldn’t it be nice if you had your own personal therapist during moments of distress? You could review your issue without having to book an hour, wait for the day, find parking, and deal with any of the other hassles of a trip to a therapist.
Well, now you can. Youper is an emotional health assistant you can use to analyze your thoughts and anchor them in reality and facts, not false expectations.
The app uses science-based therapies, like CBT, ACT, and Mindfulness, to support you with an interactive AI-emotional health assistant. The assistant is always learning from you, and customized your therapy sessions to fit your personal needs.
In just a few minutes, a micro-therapy session provides you healthy perspective about your mood, trigger situations, and thoughts. Users report that the tool is just like interacting with a therapist.
Show up a little early
Unfamiliar locations can make you more susceptible to anxiety. If you know this is an issue that affects you, then it’s critical to get comfortable with the location before your delivery. You will feel more comfortable because the initial tension of being in a new place evaporates.
If possible, take some time to sit and observe the space, walk around, pay attention to the layout of the room, and look for things that could potentially distract you.
Are there things on the walls? Are the walls made of glass, allowing you to see passersby circulating outside the room? Think about things that distract you while your presenting and look out for red flags. Knowing these distractions are there is better than finding out at the moment all eyes are on you.
Remind Yourself Fear Is Normal
Fear is normal and helps us avoid danger. That’s great! But is giving a presentation dangerous? While that might be debatable, it’s definitely not life threatening.
As I’ve said before, fear of public speaking is high on the list of Americans most common fears. Giving a presentation puts you in a vulnerable position where you can be judged, which is another thing humans are not comfortable with.
Remember that everyone feels anxious before they present, and you feel this way because the presentation is important to you. The more a person practices and delivers presentations, the more comfortable they become.
The same goes for you; the more you do it, the better and more confident you’ll become.
BONUS: Support Yourself With Substances
It’s important to make sure you get enough water and air before a presentation (what kind of substances did you think I meant?).
Keeping yourself hydrated during a presentation is important because dehydration can trigger anxiety symptoms. Grab a bottle or get a cup before your presentation starts. Don’t be afraid to pause and take a sip of water during your delivery, it gives you a moment to pause and reset if you notice yourself rushing.
When you get anxious, your breathing speeds up. Breathing calms anxiety by guiding you back to a slower rhythm, calming you down in the process. For those that find it difficult to focus on their breathing, a guided exercise with audio or a visual guide will help you focus on your breath through an entire cycle.
Research indicates that breathing exercises are an effective way to lower anxiety levels.
Nail Your Next Presentation
Overcome the obstacles that get in the way of your goals and achievements is as simple as arming yourself with the right tools, methods, and tactics. If anxiety about a presentation or public speaking engagement is weighing on you, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to facilitate your success.
Your career is important to you, which means so is being effective and efficient in your work. Lost sales and unimpressed clients are potential consequences of not taking the reins of the difficulties you face with presentation anxiety.
The above tips are proven to help reduce anxiety and increase confidence before you need to deliver a presentation. Next time you are looking down the barrel of a public speaking engagement, reach for these tried and true tips to decrease anxiety and ensure you don’t miss an opportunity for growth.
How to create a workout plan for work travel
Work and personal travel disrupts our routines throughout the year. I’ve written thousands of workouts that have gone ignored due to unplanned meetings, dinners, cocktail parties, hangovers, delayed flights, etc. Working out is one of the best ways to be kind to yourself and your body. All it takes is a plan. Listed below are 5 successful travel workout tips.
Find the love - do exercises that you love. You know what you like to do. Plan out a routine that you like.
Go fast and hard with the exercises you choose to do. 10 burpees per minute for 10 minutes will get you breaking a sweat!
Reward yourself! Reward yourself with a treat. Motivational treats may be enough of an incentive to stick with your routine. I love to indulge after a tough sweat. Sometimes the thought of a big lunch is enough of a perk for me to get through the workout.
Schedule your workout! Pencil in 20 minutes or an hour, set the time for you. Remind yourself why it's important. What is important to me is how good I feel once I complete a workout. I am worth the workout! Plan accordingly making the time for you.
Make your workout an adventure. Travel for work or play is an opportunity to explore. Mapping out a walk or a run, dropping-in to an outdoor fitness class or running group, or walking to your meetings are good exploring options while in a new city. For example, near the SFO, the Bay Trail is a good paved pathway along the SF Bay waterfront that also connects several hotels and restaurants.
A quick recap to create your travel workout plan. 1. Find the love. 2. Go hard. 3. Incentivize 4. Schedule 5. Adventure. If you desire a prescribed workout plan, I would love to write one up for you as well. What do you love to do?