We’ve all been there: You’re moments away from giving a big speech and your body decides it’s the perfect moment for a panic attack. Your mouth dries up and your pulse quickens as you realize you’ve just forgotten your opening argument! The crowd watches in abject horror as you hurriedly stumble, stutter, and slur your way through what could’ve been a fine speech. After it’s finally over, you sulk off somewhere to the tune of weak, pitiful applause.
Speech anxiety affects people in many different ways. Some may get shaky legs or an upset stomach during a presentation. Others may vomit or even pass out! Though the severity may vary from person to person, there are several ways that anyone can control it. So, without further ado, here are five easy ways to control your speech anxiety!
Organization is key
Your dramatic, winding speech may sound great on paper, but it can be difficult to deliver in presentation. Often, you’ll spend too much energy just trying to remember what comes next! An introduction and conclusion with a few supporting points is more than enough for most speeches, so save your intricate anecdotes for written work.
Keep it simple, keep it concise
Galvanizing people with your labyrinthine lexicon may impress a professor, but it’ll often tongue tie you in a speech. Don’t make your sentences needlessly complex! The less you have to worry about saying something correctly, the more you can focus on the speech itself.
Rehearse it like you mean it
There’s more to practicing a speech than memorizing the words. You also have to work on volume, enunciation, body language, and more. Try practicing in an environment that mimics the real thing as closely as possible. After all, it’s far easier to do something if you’ve already done it before.
Slow and steady wins the race
You’ll often give a speech within a time constraint. Don’t let that pressure you into rushing through it needlessly. A speech is no good if the audience can’t understand it. If you’re worried about time, cut your speech down instead. Both you and your audience will appreciate the more leisurely pace!
Your body goes through a variety of changes when anxious. Your heart rate increases, sweat begins forming at the skin, and hormones are pumped through your system. With so much going on, your body needs added oxygen to function properly. Take several deep breaths before your speech to help your body counteract this fight-or-flight response.
As you can see, speech anxiety is affected by several factors. Prevention is the best medicine, however, so following these tips before giving your presentation can help reduce whatever speech anxiety you may have. If you’re still having trouble, consider joining a speech club of some kind. Experience goes a long way in overcoming any imagined fears that may be holding you back. Before long, you’ll be orating like a pro!