The fear of public speaking — a paralyzing phobia or simply anxiety that affects the quality of speech — is experienced by about one in four people. One theory is that evolution is to blame. At a time when people were threatened by large predators, the group helped to survive, and ostracism meant death. Times have changed, but the fear remains. Social pain — that arises from group rejection — is as real as physical pain. And speaking out, taking the risk of being rejected, can be as scary as putting your life in real danger.
The principles of dealing with fear are universal, so they can help with a wide variety of speeches: whether you need to give a long speech in front of an audience, speak in a group in front of several other students, present yourself at your best during the exam, or just tell your friends an interesting story. And if you need help with your assignments, you can get it by the best assignment writing service that will provide you with excellent results.
Ways to Deal with the Fear
To break the cycle of worry and failure, try the following five methods.
- Reimagine the Problem
You can think of your monologue as a performance that requires special skills and during which others judge how good you are. Or you can think about it as an act of communication: it is important to reach out to listeners, tell your story and your ideas — and we do the same thing in our everyday communication.
- Do Rehearsals
Positive experiences destroy negative beliefs and associated anxiety. This is the essence of the exposure method in psychotherapy: to experience situations that cause fear in a safe controlled environment and get used to them. Therefore, it is worth rehearsing — not only before speaking for a long time but also as a training session. Harvard University oratory teacher Marjorie North advises to do this as accurately as possible: make a dummy microphone, turn on the presentation. You can do this at home, in front of a mirror, or pretend that the audience is looking at you or ask friends for help.
- Speak As If You Are Not Afraid
The essence of the method lies at the junction of psychology and “acting-as-if” — to pretend to be what you need to be, and thus become one. It works by connecting the body and mind. For example, an upright posture makes us more confident. And also thanks to feedback from listeners: the more confident we seem, the more favorably they react — and thereby reinforce self-esteem. To play a confident speaker, focus on two components: volume and gesture. Remember, you look more convincing when you speak a little louder and harder than usual.
- Make Eye Contact
The brain perceives performance as a threat to survival — and makes us hypervigilant. The ability to notice disgruntled or bored faces increases, which only leads to anxiety. When you start talking, find some friendly faces to focus on and worry less. It will also help grab the attention of those who are listening to you.
- Improve Your Skills
The more skilled you feel, the more confident you are. Start by examining some of the experienced TED speakers. Notice how they use space, gesture, make eye contact, and pause. Then work on your speech by listening to tapes taken at different times and in different circumstances. If you practice speaking English, use the Ummo or Orai apps to analyze your speech and give advice on how to improve speed and clarity.