How Improving Speaking Skills Reduces Anxiety
Do you get nervous when it's your turn to speak in class? Or do you feel uncomfortable when you have to give a presentation for work? If so, this article is for you.
Speaking in front of a group is a common phobia. The fear stems from the possibility of judgment from others. Fortunately, various studies have shown that public speaking anxiety can be overcome with practice. So how do we do it?
The first step in combating anxiety, is understanding how anxiety works.
Anxiety works in a relatively predictable way, and it's helpful to understand the basic process.
When you're worried about something that might happen, your body thinks that it's true. It doesn't discriminate between real events and imagined ones: from the perspective of your body, they're all equal.
If you think about your circumstances very hard, especially while in bed at night, your nervous system will prepare itself for action as though it were facing a real threat. Your muscles will tense up as you feel yourself getting ready to run away or face some other physical danger. Since this kind of anxiety can sometimes get out of hand (and since there aren't usually many opportunities to respond physically), this leads to an uncomfortable sensation that can be difficult to get rid of.
You may also find yourself thinking very hard about the event in question—what implications it has for you, what could go wrong, how life would change if it came true. Because your brain has accepted this impending threat as truth rather than fiction, it then forms its worldview accordingly: everything goes downhill from there.
After years and years of struggling with spiraling thoughts, you will have to learn to break the cycle. Responding to your anxiety is a learned behavior, which means it's possible to change the way we respond in stressful situations. So how do we do that?
Practice, practice, and more practice!
Retraining Your Mind and Body
Practicing public speaking can help you know what to expect and how to handle it.
The more you practice handling difficult situations, the more confident you will be when they happen. If you have trouble speaking in a group, it helps a great deal to rehearse first. You might even write down your speech, or at least the main points, so that you don’t forget what you want to say when the time comes.
Doing so turns an unfamiliar situation (something that gives most people anxiety) into a familiar one. You will have less anxiety in familiar situations and your fight or flight response won’t be triggered like it would have been previously.
Practicing Can Identify Opportunities For Improvement
Practicing public speaking is a great way to identify opportunities for improvement. By giving yourself the chance to practice out loud, you will find ways that you can improve your work.
For example, when practicing public speaking out loud, you will be able to hear how your words sound. You may think that a certain phrase sounds right in your head, but by saying it out loud, you might realize that it sounds awkward or unnatural. You can then go back and re-write the phrase so that it flows better with the rest of your speech!
Rehearsing Changes The Relationship You Have With Your Environment So The Thought Of New Experiences Is Less Daunting
You can improve your speaking skills by preparing carefully for every place you may need to speak. Of course, professional speakers spend years honing their craft, but you can employ a few basic techniques in the day-to-day and see an improvement in your speaking abilities.
Below is a guide to preparing for common situations where public speaking occurs:
- Presentations: do some research about the audience, practice out loud, and make sure you have all of your materials
- Interviews: practice questions ahead of time and keep it short
- Parties/Networking events: be prepared to introduce yourself with confidence
Rehearsing in situations such as the ones mentioned above will allow you to feel more confident going into those situations. The more you rehearse, the more confidence you will gain until eventually, those environments will no longer trigger your anxiety.
Becoming a Better Speaker Will Increase Overall Confidence
Practicing speaking skills changes the way you think about yourself, allowing you to see that you are capable of doing hard things.
One of the most commonly overlooked benefits of rehearsal is that it changes the way you think about yourself. A big part of anxiety is thinking negatively about your abilities, but rehearsing allows you to see these in a new light.
In practice, you can learn to have confidence in yourself and faith in your ability to handle things well. Over time, you will start to see that your abilities are positive. You will begin to view yourself as capable and competent (even if this isn't entirely true just yet!).
If you experience a lot of anxiety during public speaking, or even just during routine work meetings, Poised is the solution for you. Poised is an AI communication coach that can help you know exactly where your speaking could improve. You never have to worry about if you’re working on the right thing, because Poised is great at identifying where and how you can improve.
How does this amazing technology work? Once you download Poised and start an online meeting (Poised is compatible with many online meeting platforms such as Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and more), a little box will pop-up in the right hand corner of your screen and start giving you feedback about the pace of your speaking, use of filler words, your energy and more.
After a few observations Poised will custom create a learning plan to help you improve your public speaking. Let us help you overcome the anxiety you experience while public speaking by signing up for Poised today!