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Do you always feel nervous whenever you’re up on stage and about to deliver a speech? Do your legs shake? Does your heart pound? When you are up on stage and about to talk in front of a lot of people, it is normal for a person to feel all of these emotions.
All humans experience a little stage fright at some point in their lives, and it is perfectly normal to admit that you are nervous or feel like you are about to have a heart attack before you go in front of a crowd.
If you have been experiencing public speaking anxiety in higher volumes than normal, then you may have the disorder. Before you panic, do not worry because these types of disorders are very treatable and most definitely controllable as long as you know what makes you anxious while you are on stage.
It is always important to get to know yourself, and what you are comfortable with, because this will help you get over your anxiety or at least have enough energy left in you to control it.
Before you can ever fix yourself and how you see other people, you must first know the nature of your condition, and what triggers it.
What is public speaking anxiety?
Public speaking anxiety, often referred to, as stage fright or speech anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder that causes a person to feel fear towards being judged or evaluated by other people. This type of anxiety disorder is accompanied by other physical and emotional reactions that can significantly affect a person’s ability to recite their speech or presentation in front of a large audience.
When in front, the person with public speaking anxiety will also start to feel feelings of worry, nervousness, sweating, dizziness, amplified bouts of anxiety and trembling or shaking.
This type of phobia is the most common fear that most people can develop. People develop this anxiety during early childhood. If the child has experienced being humiliated, or judged by classmates, they will most likely keep this anxiety until they grow older.
Some parents will fail to notice this, and even sometimes become the cause of the anxiety. Parents often forget that humiliating or shouting at a child in public can cause serious self-confidence issues, even trauma. If you want to reprimand your child, do it properly and not in public areas, because fear stems from traumatic events such as situations like this. There are other ways that you can let your child know if they have done something wrong, it doesn’t always have to result to violence.
If you have experienced these kinds of events in your life as a child, then that may be the cause of your stage fright. Do not worry, because these are disorders that can be treated by a doctor and controlled with the right medication or more safely with self-help programs.
How to manage public speaking anxiety
• Understand your speech – if you are a person suffering from public speaking anxiety, it will be hard for you to say anything on stage if you don’t prepare for it ahead of time. Before you proceed with your speech, read up on your topic, understand, and remember it. This is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve experienced myself. When speaking to a couple of hundreds of people, it really helps if you have practiced your speech and have a detailed knowledge of the topic.
If you go with memorizing your entire speech, you can end up forgetting what you memorized and it will end up causing you more anxiety by making you nervous. It is always better to understand the topic, so that in case you forget something while you are delivering your speech, it wont be hard for you get back on track.
If you do end up forgetting some points of your topic, just relax, take a deep breath and follow through with your mistake. Make sure that you correct yourself mentally. Don’t worry about what the crowd will think, just make sure that you stay calm the entire presentation. You might be surprised how forgiving the crowd is!
• Practice yourself – before you start to talk in front of a crowd, you can try talking in front of your family members. This is good practice, since they make you feel comfortable. When you go on stage, just keep your eye on your family members and concentrate on them. Just imagine that you are only talking to them, that way it will keep your mind off your anxiety.
You can also try practicing your speech with family friends that you are not close with. Try to engage yourself by talking with people you do not know little by little, that way you can take your mind off the feeling of being judged by these people, and more importantly being judged by your audience when you talk on stage.
• Practice breathing – before you start talking, it helps to take long deep breaths. Doing this will take your mind off all those people you will be talking to when you get on stage. Breathing will not only relax your mind, but it will also control your anxiety.
Control is your main objective, because the more that you can control the anxiety, the more that you will have more chances of staying calm.
• Get lots of rest – for a person with anxiety, it is hard to get enough sleep at night because your mind worries too much. Sometimes they also have a tendency to worry about things that they are not supposed to. Before your big day, it is important that you get enough rest so that you are ready the next day.
If you are having trouble going to sleep, which is a pretty common side effect of anxiety, you can always ask your doctor to prescribe you with some beta-blockers, or sleeping pills. These drugs are designed to help you relax and keep you focused while you are on stage. However, just remember that drugs always have some side effects, so trying more natural ways first is always better.
• Speak slowly – if you are nervous, you intuitively will speed up your speaking to get rid of the uncomfortable situation sooner. This is naturally not a good sign. When you are nervous, pay a special attention to the speed you are talking with. Slow it down so that you start feeling uncomfortable about that! Confident speakers speak slowly; slow speaking tempo naturally makes people think you are confident and have authority. And, when you pay attention to the speed of your speaking, it takes your thoughts away from the public speaking anxiety.
While it is normal for a person to feel nervous when they are about to talk on stage, always remember that there are a lot of ways for you to control this condition. Having public speaking anxiety can sometimes be troublesome, but with the right techniques on how to control it, you can overcome anything that comes your way.