Archive for the ‘Public Speaking Anxiety’ Category

Public Speaking Anxiety Myths

Sunday, December 12th, 2010
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There are many myths around public speaking anxiety.  One of these is that public speaking anxiety is bad for you. It can in fact increase your level of performance and make you come across better to the audience. In fact it is normal for an audience to rate the speaker’s performance much higher than the speaker themselves.

Here is a great video that discusses the myths of public speaking anxiety and provides information on public speaking. The sound quality isn’t great but it is worth persevering with.

The Confident Speaker by Larina Kase and Harrison Monarth is well written and will help people to speak confidently in front of groups of any size. It is great for beginners and people finding advancement in their careers been held back by their fear of public speaking.

You can find the The Confident Speaker: Beat Your Nerves and Communicate at Your Best in Any Situation here

Controlling Your Fear Of Public Speaking And Be A Better Speaker

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
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There is a lot of information on the internet today about eliminating your nervousness in public speaking. I suggest learning how to control it instead, allowing your nervousness to work for you and not against you which can take your delivery to new heights.

What I offer is not a tip or a trick but the most important thing you can do when you stand to speak. It is something physical.

1. it is something we don’t do;

2. it is something we don’t know to do; and,

3. it is something we don’t know how to do (properly).

Now that I have you totally confused, bear with me. Once I tell what ‘it’ is, you might say rubbish; although, for those of you who have done presentations in the past, you possibly remember running out of ‘it’ while speaking!

I am talking about breathing, specifically breathing with the support of your diaphragm, a muscular partition below your rib cage which separates your chest from your abdomen. 99% of the population does not breathe with this support which is why we are often called lazy or shallow breathers. It is a medical fact.

There is one group of people in the world, however, who must breathe with this support — opera singers. That is why they are often called professional breathers.

There is another group of individuals, though, who also breathe with this support and they are called newborns. Every infant breathes with the support of the diaphragm, but as the child develops he/she tends to stop this practice and reverts to using only the upper portion of the chest to breathe.

All mammals have a diaphragm. All mammals breathe with the support of the diaphragm. It is only the most intelligent of the mammals who do not make use of this extraordinary muscle. If you do not believe me, go stand in front of a mirror and take a deep breath. Did you suck in your gut, lift up your shoulders and throw out your chest? If so, then you just did it wrong.

When I started my business back in 1989, I joined the local chamber of commerce. At a new member’s orientation, we had to stand and introduce ourselves. There had to be 150 people in that room and I knew no one. While sitting there waiting for my turn, it suddenly dawned on me that my introduction was my business. As one who teaches people how to improve the sound of the speaking voice, I realized that if I blew that introduction, I could kiss my business goodbye, at which point I began to sweat. My heart was beating with such fervor that I could feel it in my cheeks. Finally it was my turn. I stood; I took a breath; and, I proceeded to say who I was and what I did. I sounded calm, collected, in control. They had no idea that I was ‘dying a thousand deaths.’ And, I knew it worked because when I sat down, a gentlemen in the back said, “That’s the Voice Lady!”

[Incidentally, if you are a woman, do you find your shoulders, neck, upper back, and/or jaw sore by the end of the day? I do not. I have plenty of stress in my life but because I breathe properly, I never experience tension in those areas. Trust me -- it's all in the breathing!]

Shallow breathing results in oxygen starvation which means we are not eliminating enough of the carbon dioxide in our bodies, thereby a toxic buildup occurs. And, while this toxic buildup has many adverse effects, for the purposes of public speaking, it actually increases our tension, our stress. Think of the last time you gave a speech or a presentation. Did the pitch of your voice go up? Did you find yourself breathless? Did you start speaking faster and faster? These are all symptoms of nervousness exacerbated by poor breathing habits. So ask yourself this question.

Would you like to remain part of the 99%? Or, would you like to become part of that 1% who allow their breathing to control their nervousness as well as experiencing a host of other benefits that have nothing to do with the voice or presentation skills.

Take control of your nervousness and let it work for you, not against you! The Voice Lady Nancy DanielsVoicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement and public speaking. Click here to watch Nancy describe The 5 Characteristics of Dynamic Public Speaking in her 8-minute video offers private, corporate and group sessions in voice and presentation skills as well as

Is The Fear Of Public Speaking Real?

Friday, June 25th, 2010
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They say that man’s greatest fear is public speaking and that his second greatest fear is dying. According to Jerry Seinfield that means, “that most people at a funeral would rather be in the coffin than give the eulogy!”

To my knowledge no one has died from public speaking. Your hands may sweat, your voice may quiver, your heart may be pounding in your cheeks, and, you may have vomited before going on stage; but rest assured, public speaking will not kill you!

Are your fears of standing in front of an audience justified? If you’re not prepared, then you have every reason to be ‘scared to death.’

Part of the fear of addressing an audience is the unknown. For many of us that is what is so thrilling about public speaking; for most, however, that is what is so unsettling. Admittedly, you do not know what will happen as you stand at the lectern which is why your preparation is critical to your success.

Of the thousands of people with whom I’ve worked, it never ceases to amaze me how many come to their class, their session, or their workshop unprepared. A guarantee for failure on the podium or at the head of the boardroom table is not knowing your material.

What that means is to practice your speech or your presentation out loud many times. Reading over your material to yourself is not practice because the flow of your words, while understandable in written form, may not sound as good out loud. You must practice just like the musician, the actor, the athlete, or the presidential candidate.

In regards to public speaking, this is called a rehearsal. Too many people look to squeeze in a few minutes to go over their script and I disagree. You should set aside time each day to practice and stick to your schedule. No matter how tight your agenda, do not cancel your rehearsal. Treat it just as importantly as you would treat a meeting with your boss or a potential client because it is. Your success in that speech or that presentation speaks volumes about you and your abilities. One of your most important goals in public speaking is to sell yourself as an expert in your topic or your field. And that can only happen with practice.

If you have the ability to video-record yourself, by all means do so. In playing it back, analyze what you like about your delivery and what you don’t like. What needs work? Video-recording is one of the best tools that I use in training others. By watching yourself, it will be easier to improve that which needs work.

That does not mean that you must record yourself each time you practice; but, it also doesn’t mean waiting until the last moment either. How you look and sound to others is something you cannot appreciate until you see yourself on video and is similar to hearing your voice on your voicemail, generally not a pleasant experience! It also would be a good idea to have someone listen to you during a couple of those rehearsals if at all possible.

While you cannot know exactly what will happen during your speech or presentation, being prepared is the best defense for the unexpected and is part of every successful delivery.

My advice? Practice; practice; and more practice. The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate, and group training in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It! the only video training course on voice improvement. For more information go to: http://www.voicedynamic.com/specialaccess1.htm

Fear Of Public Speaking And Panic Attacks

Friday, June 18th, 2010
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It is often observed that many people’s top ranking fear is not death but having to speak in public. The joke is that these people would rather be lying in the casket at the funeral than giving the eulogy. Public speaking for people who suffer from panic attacks or general anxiety often becomes a major source of worry weeks or even months before the speaking event is to occur.

These speaking engagements do not necessarily have to be the traditional “on a podium” events but can be as simple as an office meeting where the individual is expected to express an opinion or give verbal feedback. The fear of public speaking and panic attacks in this case centers on having an attack while speaking. The individual fears being incapacitated by the anxiety and hence unable to complete what he or she is saying. The person imagines fleeing the spotlight and having to make all kinds of excuses later for their undignified departure out the office window….

This differs slightly from the majority of people who fear public speaking because their fear tends to revolve around going blank while speaking or feeling uncomfortable under the spotlight of their peers. The jitters or nerves of speaking in public are of course a problem for this group as well, but they are unfamiliar with that debilitating threat which is the panic attack, as they most likely have not experienced one before.

So how should a person with an anxiety issue tackle public speaking?

Stage one is accepting that all these bizarre and quite frankly unnerving sensations are not going to go away overnight. In fact, you are not even going to concern yourself with getting rid of them for your next talk. When they arrive during a speech/meeting, you are going to approach them in a new manner. What we need to do is build your confidence back to where it used to be before any of these sensations ever occurred. This time you will approach it in a unique, empowering manner, allowing you to feel your confidence again. It is said that most of the top speakers are riddled with anxiety before speaking, but they somehow use this nervousness to enhance their speech. I am going to show you exactly how to do this, although I know that right now if you suffer from public speaking and panic attacks you may find it difficult to believe you can ever overcome it.

My first point is this and it is important. The average healthy person can experience an extreme array of anxiety and very uncomfortable sensations while giving a speech and is in no danger of ever losing control, or even appearing slightly anxious to the audience. No matter how tough it gets, you will always finish your piece, even if at the outset it feels very uncomfortable to go on. You will not become incapacitated in any way.

The real breakthrough for if you suffer from public speaking and panic attacks happens when you fully believe that you are not in danger and that the sensations will pass.

“I realize you (the anxiety) hold no threat over me.”

What keeps a panic attack coming again and again is the fear of the fear-the fear that the next one will really knock your socks off and you feel you were lucky to have made it past the last one unscathed. As they were so unnerving and scary, it is your confidence that has been damaged by previous anxiety episodes. Once you fully understand you are not under any threat, then you can have a new response to the anxiety as it arises while speaking.

Defeating public speaking and panic attacks…

There is always a turning point when a person moves from general anxiety into a panic attack, and that happens with public speaking when you think to yourself:

“I won’t be able to handle this in front of these people.”

That split second of self-doubt leads to a rush of adrenaline, and the extreme anxiety arrives in a wave like format. If, however, when you feel the initial anxiety and you react with confidence that this is not a threat to you, you will move out of the anxiety rapidly. Using this new approach is a powerful ally because it means it is okay to feel scared and feel the anxiety when speaking-that is fine; you are going to feel it and move with and through the sensations in your body and out the other side. Because he or she is feeling very anxious, often before the talk has begun, that person may feel they have already let themselves down. Now, you can relax on that point. It is perfectly natural to feel the anxiety. Take for example the worst of the sensations you have ever experienced in this situation-be it general unease to loss of breath. You will have an initial automatic reaction that says:

“Danger-I’m going to have an episode of anxiety here and I really can’t afford that to happen.”

At this point most people react to that idea and confirm it must be true because of all of the unusual feelings they are experiencing. This is where your thinking can lead you down a train of thought that creates a cycle of anxiety that produces a negative impact on your overall presenting skills.

So let that initial “oh dear, not now” thought pass by, and follow it up immediately with the attitude of:

“There you are-I’ve been wondering when you would arrive. I’ve been expecting you to show up-by the way, I am not in the least threatened by any of the strange sensations you are creating-I am completely safe here.”

The key to controlling your fear of public speaking and panic attacks is that instead of pushing the emotional energy and excitement down into your stomach, you are moving out through it. Your body is in a slightly excited state, exactly as it should be while giving a speech, so release that energy in your self-expression. Push it out through your presentation not down into your stomach. You push it out by expressing yourself more forcefully. In this way you turn the anxiety to your advantage by using it to deliver a speech where you come across more alive, energetic and in the present moment. When you notice the anxiety drop as it does when you willingly move into it. Fire a quick thought off when you get a momentary break (as I am sure you have between pieces), asking it for “more.” You want more of its intense feelings as you are interested in them and are absolutely not threatened by them.

It seems like a lot of things to be thinking about while talking to a group of people, but it is not really. You’d be amazed how many different non-related thoughts you can have while speaking. This approach is about adopting a new attitude of confidence to what you might have deemed a serious threat up until now. This tactic will truly help you with fear of public speaking and panic attacks you have associated with them.

If your predominant fear of the speaking engagement is driven by a feeling of being trapped, then I would suggest factoring in some mental releases that can be prepared before the event. For example, some meetings/speeches allow for you to turn the attention back to the room to get feedback etc. from the group.

If possible, you might want to prepare such opportunities in your own mind before the engagements. This is not to say you have to ever use them, but people in this situation often remark that just having small opportunities where attention can be diverted for the briefest of moments can make the task seem less daunting. It my even be something as simple as having people introduce themselves or opening the floor to questions. I realize these diversions are not always possible and depend on the situation, but anything you can factor in that makes you feel less trapped or under the spotlight is worth the effort and can help alleviate fear of public speaking and panic attacks. Darryl Paul is the author of this article and runs the blog http://panicaway-now.blogspot.com/

The Quick And Easy Way To Beat Public Speaking Anxiety

Monday, June 14th, 2010
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The thought of public speaking is something that is enough to make anyone get nervous. It is also called stage fright or speech anxiety – the anxiousness and fear that accompanies the negative thoughts one tends to have when faced with the prospect of speaking in public or in front of a large group of people.

Everybody can fall victim to speech anxiety: even celebrities and prominent people who are regularly under the spotlight sometimes still have the “butterflies in the stomach,” the sweaty palms, and the shaking knees that accompany the fear of public speaking. The possible causes of speech anxiety are numerous.

One could be previous failure in delivering a speech. The fear of repeated failure may cause an individual to develop an extreme fear to try again. On the other hand, inexperience, or never having given a public speech, results to an almost similar fear. Another common cause is shyness. The feeling of having all eyes focused on you at a particular time can cause much anxiety for a shy person who do not normally speak too much even in front of small groups. Some people just hate being the center of attention and the feeling of conspicuousness when speaking in public increases the level of anxiety and embarrassment one feels.

Another, and easier to resolve, cause of speech anxiety is lack of preparation. Without practice, the level of discomfort in speaking words that you don’t really know by heart is considerably larger. If you are not intimately acquainted with the content of your speech, if the words coming out of your mouth are not things that you actually have strong feelings for, chances are you will have the fear of being “found out.” The chances of being provoked into discussions you think you cannot have a strong opinion about and can defend increase the level of anxiety of many public speakers.

One of the first steps in overcoming speech anxiety is to identify your personal reasons on why you fear it so. Once you are aware of the cause, you can then work on finding solutions to your concerns. Whether you fear speaking in front of thousands or even in front of one other person, there are ways to manage your fear and improve your performance. From something as simple as practicing your spiels, making use of visualizations, or self-motivation to something like searching for professional help by taking up a skills training course, speech anxiety is not without “cure.”

These actions will help you develop strategies to overcome your fears or, if not, at least handle it in such a way that your anxiety will not be evident to your audience. There are several self-help books available that discuss tips and strategies to be better communicators.

Speech anxiety is a behavioral condition that is common to all humans. Different personalities may experience different levels of such an anxiety but the good news is that it can be overcome. With proper training and practice, anybody has the potential to be an excellent speaker. Bobby Dyland is a expert on anxiety and panic attacks who recently developed a free eCourse that lists a step by step process for understanding, controlling and finally beating anxiety.

If you are interested in learning more about his “Crushing Anxiety and Reclaiming your Life” eCourse and beating panic attacks once and for all, please go here: http://www.crushanxiety.com