How I Overcame Public Speaking Anxiety
Public speaking is an act that has typically triggered my anxiety. I had to work on it for several years to get to a point where I could manage my public speaking anxiety and anxiety in general.
When I was a young teenager, I dreamed of having a career that would allow me to speak in front of large audiences. So, I decided to join school activities that allowed me to do this. But I found that every time I was in front of a group of people, small or large, I would panic and feel completely terrified.
Unfortunately, I believe I started to reinforce this anxiety in myself because, throughout the years, I would feel increasingly anxious any time I had to speak in front of others, even if it was something as simple as speaking up in class.
What Happens When Public Speaking Causes Anxiety
I've become very familiar with the symptoms I feel when my anxiety is in full gear. My heart races, and I tremble, feel ill, and become very tense. I also often feel this overwhelming need to escape my situation. One of the more difficult-to-manage anxiety symptoms that sometimes can make it hard to function is that I will have a hard time concentrating.
When it comes to public speaking, this difficulty concentrating can be problematic, especially when, at the moment, it is necessary to think on your feet.
The more I reinforced anxiety by worrying about the act before I did it, the worse my symptoms became. And I found that the racing thoughts, including the excessive worrying, became worse as well, which then made all the other symptoms worse. So, during earlier years in my career, I simply did everything I could to avoid speaking in public.
What I Found Helpful for Coping with Public Speaking Anxiety
In the way my career was headed, I knew I wouldn't be able to avoid speaking in front of people forever. And I also found that after the times that I spoke in front of people and it went well, I would actually feel excited and exhilarated.
I started to pay close attention to what I was doing before these situations that would either provoke my anxiety or make it worse or help me feel calmer. Now, this is what has become helpful for me when dealing with public speaking anxiety:
- Overprepareing -- I often noticed that the anxiety came from worrying about what I was going to talk about and how familiar I was with it. So I found it helpful to make sure that I was prepared, and then when I felt l was, take it even a step further. Doing so helped to build my confidence.
- Being confident -- As a result, building my confidence has ultimately helped me throughout the years. When you struggle with anxiety, confidence is often one of the hardest things to build because we worry constantly and tend to second-guess every decision we make. It's typically those worries that keep us up at night. However, finding ways to build your confidence becomes tremendously helpful in combating the anxiety felt from having to appear confident when speaking in front of an audience.
- Focusing on the content -- This is one of my key strategies for being able to speak confidently in front of others. When I am focused on what I am speaking about instead of focusing on the audience in front of me, it gets to a point where it is simply me and the content. This becomes a kind of dam blocking a wave of anxiety that could easily overtake me. This took some practice to be able to do intentionally over the years, but the more I have practiced mindfulness, the more I have found I can do this.
I still experience some jitters here and there; however, it is immensely less than it used to be. I am also aware, though, that the dam I have in place to block those waves of anxiety can easily crack if I allow it to.
If there are things you do to lessen your public speaking anxiety, share them in the comments below.
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2022, October 11). How I Overcame Public Speaking Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2022/10/how-i-overcame-public-speaking-anxiety