by Adam Noar
“There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” – Mark Twain
Most people, including myself, are usually a little bit (if not greatly) anxious about public speaking.
We think people are going to scrutinize everything we say and do. We pressure ourselves to be perfect, and we dread confronting the possibility of rejection.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Did you know that there are proven strategies to trick your brain into eliminating all fear and anxiousness that comes with presenting?
Today we are going to be sharing five of those strategies. Let’s begin!
1.) Don’t be so Selfish
Many times public speakers focus get way too wrapped up in THEMSELVES when approaching a presentation.
You know the feeling …
That feeling when your presentation is rapidly approaching and you quickly go down the dark rabbit hole by judging yourself and asking yourself:
- Am I smart enough?
- Will my audience like me?
- Will I talk too much?
- What if I forget what I need to say?
- Do people even care about what I have to say?
Famous entrepreneur and public speaker Dan Lok says that this is completely the WRONG WAY to mentally approach an upcoming presentation. You’re asking yourself all the wrong questions!
Dan Lok’s above video shows why you need to stop focusing on yourself and instead focus on your audience
You have to conquer the little voice in your head that is saying all these things. And you have to shift the focus away from yourself. As Dan Lok says “Stop being so selfish!”
So what do you do instead?
Instead of making everything all about you, shift all your focus to your audience and think about what value you can provide them.
Remember, presentations are not about YOU looking good in front of your audience. It’s about focusing on how you can enrich the lives of your audience. The only question you should be asking yourself is … am I giving value?
Once you make this mental shift from thinking the presentation is “all about you” you will be amazed by how much weight will be lifted off your shoulders. When you focus on what you can give the fear disappears.
2.) Change Your State
Another way to reduce presentation anxiety is to radically change your mental state right before you get on stage. This builds upon tip #1 above.
Dan Lok talks about his five-step process for getting into an optimal state before presenting:
#1.) Give yourself some “me time” – give yourself some alone time to channel your energy and focus on your presentation and how you are about to provide tons of value for your audience
Give yourself some “me time” before your presentation to channel your energy on how you will provide immense value to your audience
#2.) Go through a visualization exercise – close your eyes and visualize the transfer of energy from yourself to your audience. Imagine your audience walking away with some kind of value from your presentation. Doing this will help you with shifting all the focus off yourself and onto your audience.
#3.) Get your energy up – the next step is to get your energy up so you become alive and vibrant when you’re about to start talking. You might jump up and down, do some boxing moves, or whatever it takes to get your blood flowing.
#4.) Make the switch – Right before you walk on stage and begin talking apply a quick physical power move. This could be a quick pound of the chest, a muscular flex, or whatever gives you that quick jolt of power before you begin talking. The goal here is to explode with energy so that you hold the attention of your audience right from the beginning.
Different speakers have different methods of getting into a powerful state. The type method you employ should ensure that it is providing you comfort, clarity, and confidence. Get yourself in that zone and wow your audience with a positive spirit. You will be amazed at how different your energy is on stage.
The most effective (and often overlooked) method to eliminate anxiety and stress is practicing your presentation repeatedly. I’m talking 5-10 times!
Practicing your speech plays an important role in getting the job done efficiently and gives you a sense of calm on stage. When you have done enough practice before speaking to your audience, you will not hesitate because you exactly know the things you are going to talk about.
Confidence comes from competence.
Dan Lok suggests that lots of practice is critical to a successful presentation. The more you practice the more competent you become, which leads to confidence on stage.
So how much do you need to practice?
The answer is as many times necessary for you to feel 100% comfortable. If you feel you can present the material in your sleep then you know that you’re ready.
You may also want to record your presentation and then review it to identify any flaws that may make you appear less than confident. Don’t over-think the recording process. If you have a smartphone simply prop it up against something and hit the record button. No fancy equipment needed.
Recording your presentation is a great way to see any nervous habits you may not be aware of
You may need to record your speech many times and watch it over and over again to get a better understanding of the things you are weak at. Monitor the small stuff when you are watching yourself in the video. Are you nervous? Are you not speaking with clarity? Watch again and workout on all of the flaws so that you don’t face any difficulty during your big presentation.
Finally, practice till you feel tired of practicing. And then practice one more time! It helps a lot.
4.) Tell Yourself “I’m Excited”
If you want to conquer your fear of public speaking one strategy is to take the heart-thumping symptoms of anxiety and re-frame them as signs of “excitement”, according to a new research paper from Alison Brooks, a professor at Harvard Business School.
Famous TV host, broadcaster, and author of several books, Mel Robbins also swears by this idea.
Mel Robbins points out that by simply telling yourself “you are excited” about something you can shift your mindset to a better state before presenting
Framing yourself as “excited” pushes away the negativity, and helps individuals see an anxiety-inducing event as an opportunity rather than a threat.
So how do you re-frame your thinking that you’re excited about something rather than nervous? … simply say to yourself “I’m excited”.
That’s all there is to it. It sounds overly simple … But it works. Here’s the proof backed by science:
In the public-speaking experiment, judges rating participants on their persuasiveness used a scale of 1 to 7 and gave an average score of 4.03 to participants who said “I am excited” prior to delivering a short speech, versus 3.45 to those in the “I am calm” group. The judges were not told before rating the speeches which group the subjects fell into. In rating speakers’ confidence, judges gave an average score of 4.5 to the excited group and 3.9 to the calm group.
You can use this rule anywhere: Before the start of your exam, before asking your loved one out or presenting yourself to the audience. It’s all about letting yourself go and take control of your emotions.
5.) Give Yourself an Anchor Thought
Mel Robbins also believes that anxiety is the main reason why people hesitate the most at public speaking.
There are times when people experience panic attacks before and/or during speaking to a large audience. If you are speaking to a large group of people and experience a panic attack, relax, take a deep breath and start over again.
If you are experiencing anxiety before public speaking one trick is to give yourself an “anchor thought” – a vision of what you’re going to do when you get to where you’re going.
In other words, visualize a particular event that will occur when you’re done with your presentation. For example, you might imagine that you are arriving at home with the dog barking in the background, there is a mess in the kitchen, and your kids are watching TV. By simply visualizing a scene like this, cognitively your brain realizes that if your walking into your house and all these events occur then you must have successfully made it through your presentation. In other words, you didn’t die during your presentation after all!
Again, this might sound too simple to work … but it does.
Most of us can reduce our anxiety of public speaking and increase our confidence by avoiding a few poor habits and incorporating some helpful mental tips like the ones we talked about here.
Here is my question for you …
After learning about these 5 mental tips to reduce presentation anxiety, which one sounds the most interesting for you to try? Do you have any other suggestions for reducing anxiety?
Sound off in your comments below… And please remember to be as specific as possible.
Also, do you have a friend that is currently working on an important presentation and could benefit from knowing how to reduce presentation nerves? If so, send them a link to this blog post right now. I’m sure, they will return the favor to you one day!
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