Overcoming Speech Anxiety

Overcoming Speech Anxiety

No more fear of speaking.

The hands are sweaty, the pulse reaches undreamt-of speeds and a feeling of panic spreads – fear of speech can literally close the throats of those affected. Speaking in front of an audience requires a great deal of effort on the part of most people, and for some it is a real torture.

For outsiders, on the other hand, it seems completely incomprehensible how it can cause someone problems to speak in front of other people. What causes the fear of speech, why stage fright is still an important aspect before a performance and how you can finally overcome your fear of speech?

Speech anxiety: stage fright can be useful

First of all to the positive sides: Stage fright is one of them and even years of experience and countless lectures do not change the fact that a certain tingling sensation in the stomach and occasionally even wet hands can occur before an important presentation. But there are also good sides to this, because stage fright is quite useful.

It may not feel like it right away, but the tension and nervousness associated with stage fright make a presentation even better. The reason for this is the production of adrenaline that enables you to perform at your best. Attention and concentration increase and the body is better supplied with energy. In short: the tension helps us to cope with the tasks at hand.

Speech anxiety: What anxieties do you trigger?

Stage fright has a positive effect on a forthcoming lecture, while logophobia – the technical term for speech anxiety – creates a feeling of panic, making it impossible to speak or even stand in front of a group of people.

But what is behind it? Logophobia belongs to the social fears, therefore a core problem of speech fear is the fear of social rejection. In the concrete case, namely when a lecture or a presentation is to be held in front of a group of people, this fear can be further subdivided.

The fear of failure. Who suffers from speech fear, makes itself large thoughts over it, how its presentation arrives. The fear of failure, that the own lecture could meet with the listeners rejection, leads partly to downright panic attacks.

The fear of being laughed at. It may be irrational, but these are fears by nature. Those who suffer from speech anxiety are afraid of being embarrassed and laughed at during their presentation.

The fear of being the centre of attention. In some cases it is not even the presentation that matters. Just the feeling of being the focus of attention and being observed by everyone present can be enough to cause anxiety.

Speech anxiety: How to overcome your fear of speaking

As with other anxieties, it is difficult to completely shed speech anxiety overnight. It is deeply anchored in the character and was partly shaped by negative experiences in the past. Of course, this does not mean that you are helplessly at the mercy of your fear in the future. It will demand a lot of courage and stamina, but with the necessary willpower you can overcome your fear of speech. These tips will help you to overcome your fear of speaking.

Make yourself aware that you are not alone

Almost everyone suffers from stage fright and fear of speech is not uncommon. Around 40 percent of people are afraid of making public speeches. So you are not considered an outsider or crazy by your audience. Quite the opposite. The majority of your listeners will be able to put themselves in your position very well and understand exactly what stress you are going through.

Learn some relaxation exercises

If you notice that panic and nervousness are gaining the upper hand, a relaxation exercise can help to relieve stress and calm you down. Which relaxation exercise will give you the best results is up to you. We recommend a simple breathing technique that can be used in any situation: Inhale normally, but hold your breath for a few seconds after exhaling. This can be repeated until the relaxation is noticeable.

Prepare yourself extensively

The better the preparation, the less likely it is that something will go wrong during the presentation. It also helps reduce the pressure that usually creeps in before a presentation. The key points that have proved to be most effective here are, for example, index cards. Of course, you shouldn’t hide behind these, but often the good feeling of being able to look at your own notes in an emergency is enough.

Deal consciously with your fears

If you want to overcome a fear, you have to deal with these places and consciously with them. So do not try to suppress your fear, but consciously deal with it. Where does your fear of speaking in front of other people come from? Was there a negative experience that triggered this feeling?

It can also help to imagine a realistic worst case scenario. What is the worst that can happen? Maybe you can’t think of a word or some listeners don’t like your presentation. But is that reason enough for your fear?

Stephen S. Davidson