ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist who can offer this type of therapy; in particular, it will be helpful if the therapist has experience in treating social anxiety and/or public speaking anxiety. if you live with public speaking anxiety that is causing you significant distress, ask your doctor about medication that can help. when used in conjunction with therapy, you may find the medication helps to reduce your phobia of public speaking. in addition to traditional treatment, there are a number of strategies that you can use to cope with speech anxiety and become better at public speaking in general. ask for a podium, have a pitcher of ice water handy, bring in audiovisual equipment, or even choose to stay seated if appropriate—whatever might make it easier for you to manage your anxiety. say something like, “thanks for that important question” or “i really appreciate your comment.” convey that you are open-minded and relaxed.
if your talk has a time limit, time yourself during practice runs and adjust your content as needed to fit within the time that you have. the cycle of anxiety in sad is as much a self-fulfilling prophecy as it is a reaction to an event. in the end, preparing well for a speech or presentation gives you confidence that you have done everything possible to succeed. the relation between public speaking anxiety and social anxiety: a review. internal and external attention in speech anxiety j behav ther exp psychiatry.
the fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders, or heights. rejection from the group led to death. the pre-frontal lobes of our brain sort our memories and is sensitive to anxiety. that shuts down the frontal lobe and disconnects it from the rest of the brain. we need to respond without debating whether to jump out of the way of on oncoming car while in an intersection. we need to recognize that the fear of brain freezing isn’t a life-or-death threat like a car barreling towards us while in a crosswalk. it might feel horrible if it happens in the moment. the long-term consequence of this incident is minimal. don’t avoid opportunities to create a more positive memory. we should aim to do our best instead of perfect.
what feels like an eternity to us may not feel that way to the audience. we miss out on the opportunity to obtain disconfirming information about the trigger. forgetting a phrase or sentence throw us off and hastens the brain freeze. practice focusing on the message that’s delivered instead of the precise words to use. we want to internalize the flow of the speech and remember the key points. if we know what to do in the worst-case scenario (and practice it), we’ll have confidence in our ability to handle it. we do that by preparing what to say to the audience if our mind goes blank. it’s natural to speed up our speech when we are anxious. speaking slowly and calmly gives the opposite message to our brain. our nerves might tell us to avoid eye contact. the fear of our mind going blank during a speech is common.
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