Public speaking anxiety is normal.
We all feel some unease when the outcome of an event is uncertain. We want it to go well and our mind craves some certainty that it will. But as the future is uncertain, it’s left wanting.
This works on a sliding scale. If you feel fully prepared for a speech or presentation and are familiar with the people, subject and venue, the anxiety will be milder. If however, the subject, audience and venue are unfamiliar to you, the uncertainty will be greater and your nervous tension will increase as a result.
The uncertainty ‘gap’
Our mind classifies an event as ‘important’ partly based on this ‘uncertainty gap’. The bigger the gap, the higher the rating of ‘important event’ in the mind. Our body responds with adrenaline (epinephrine) to provide energy to deal with the important event.
This can lead to physical symptoms – shaking hands, quivering voice, sleepless nights, a dry mouth, blushing, and more – but they all come from the same source: the adrenaline released from your adrenal glands designed to deal with your important event.
How to control nerves with the Vivid Method
You can control nerves and eliminate public speaking fears by reducing the uncertainty that creates anxiety – and close the ‘gap’. This includes:
- Knowing how to prepare well, with a simple measure of success.
- Knowing how to start and end a presentation.
- Finding mental triggers to focus your mind on concrete things rather than dwelling in anxiety.
- Using physical triggers to redirect our energy/attention.
- Applying mental techniques to think clearly under pressure.
- Receiving expert feedback and personal coaching to feel certain about what is really important.
Step 1: Certainty about your measure of success
You can reduce nervousness by gaining certainty about your purpose and understanding your measures of success for the event. Most business presentations have a fraction of their potential impact because the speaker is too self conscious or focused on things like body language, PowerPoint slides, gestures, etc. This is a mechanical approach or Performance Priority.
The key measure of your success is: Did they get your message? Whether you are talking to the media, speaking to five hundred people or having a sales conversation with one person, a message focus gives you a clear direction.
Step 2: You are ok. The power of a natural style
Speakers are always more effective when they feel natural and look believable. With your certainty built on clarity of message and natural style, delivery elements such as the tone, inflection and emphasis of your voice start to flow naturally. People with clarity and certainty always influence others. Knowing this helps reduce stage fright and public speaking anxiety.
The most compelling thing a person can do when speaking in front of a group is to be real. It inspires trust and attracts people to us.
You will develop credible skills as a speaker by building your own unique, natural style.