I really don’t like speaking in public.
Neither do you, probably – that sense of Anxiety When Speaking in Public is a bit much, isn’t it?
Whenever I was forced to speak out to a crowd, or even a large group of people in general, head on, I would always mess up completely.
Well, when you suffer from anxiety of this sort, you tend to imagine different scenarios that are better left alone. What do I mean by that? I think you know, but I will elaborate just in case you don’t.
“What if the don’t like me”,”what if I make myself look like an idiot”,”Can they notice how anxious I look?”
And if someone actually comments about this it all gets worse for you, because all of your fears have been validated and then you start feeding your mind with the next level of self-delusion: “They don’t like me”,”I made myself look like an idiot”,”They noticed how anxious I am!” and so on.
Most people who are anxious when speaking publicly will exhibit some patterns of behavior that they are better off without.
Tell me, have you ever done one of these when speaking in public?
- Rushed through your presentation?
- Read your presentation without looking at the audience?
- Used far too many slides in it?
- Made a few nervous jokes and got more anxious when no one laughed?
- Let someone else control the situation, because it was easier like this?
- Keeping swallowing, scratching your skin and clenching your sweaty fists?
You probably did, a lot of people do these things when they are nervous.
Why? because these are physical habits, and are much easier to fall into because of that.
None of these actually make you feel less nervous and only end up making you look worse, yet you can’t stop with them – as they stick to your behavior.
Well, that’s a vicious cycle you are stuck in. You feel nervous because you are afraid of what they are going to say, you act nervous, they notice that you are nervous, and that makes you feel even more nervous.
Here’s the thing – if you don’t break this psychological limit beforehand then you are not going to get any better. And these habits that you adapted to yourself? Yeah, you are much better off without those.
Let me tell you, though, I am not a good public speaker.
I never forced myself upon the situation, and when I was forced to I did alright, but I never thought that what I did was good enough.
So one time I tried adopting a persona of someone energetic and happy, and they all bought it.
It made me feel worse when someone called me “adorable”, but I couldn’t blame them, I was acting like an idiot to avoid making myself look like an idiot.
Changing the way you act at once is never going to help you, you need to adopt a system and through it enforce changes to your behavior and thought process.
Easier said than done really, so here are 3 major tips to help you out with this problem
Control your body language and don’t let it control you
Dr. Albert Mehrabian, the author of Silent Messages, found that up to 93% of our communication with each other is not based on the content of what we say. Yet we all choose to get anxious over the 7% that matter overall that much less.
Think about it – why focus your time and effort over that 7% of interaction, while failing miserably at it because the way you act ruins those other 93 percent for you.
Say you were in an exam, and you got only time for one question, one of these was a 7 points question and the other was a 93 points question. You probably would choose the 93 points question, right? So why not now?
It doesn’t make any sense!
So here is what you should do to prepare yourself to your public speaking event.
Adopt a stronger type of body language and force yourself through increasingly difficult interactions.
Sounds simple, right? Let me explain.
The way we act can change the way we think, and the way we think can change the way we act.
Professor Amy Cuddy from Harvard Business School researched the topic in-depth and got some pretty interesting results. According to her research, by changing your body language you can send mixed signals to your brain to change the way you think over time.
Don’t believe me? Try smiling for a minute and tell me you don’t feel slightly better at the very least.
Some minor change definitely has to happen there.
By holding your body in “high-power” positions you can make a short-term change, one that will lead to some long-term results.
In an article published by Psychological Science Amy described an experiment. In that experiment, they had 42 unwitting participants in it. The two were divided into two groups, one dubbed as “high-power” and the other as “low-power”.
Group high-power was manipulated into strong body language in the other into weak body language.
Then participants from both groups went through the same ordeal – after a few meaningless experiments participants were given 2$ and were told to roll a die for even odds of doubling their money or losing it.
Then they were asked to rank how “Powerful” they felt during that ordeal on a scale of one to four.
In the high-power group, a decrease of 25% in their cortisol levels and an increase of 19% in their testosterone were registered.
In the low-power group, on the other hand, an increase of 17% in their cortisol levels was registered and a decrease of 10% in their testosterone levels was registered.
What does this actually mean? Well, cortisol is a hormone that, among other things, affects your hippocampus and makes your amygdala larger when going through a traumatic event.
What does this actually mean? Well, it means that when going through a traumatic event you suffer from anxiety and depression through this hormone.
And considering your anxiety when it comes to public speaking… Well, it can definitely be considered a traumatic event for you.
Testosterone, on the other hand, the hormone that, among other things, is responsible for dominance and strong attitude.
So what do you do? Adopt a stronger body language when you speak. It may be simple but it’s far from being easy, for it to work you will need to constantly watch over the way you move, to make sure that you don’t mess up.
Until then, you can always watch Amy’s presentation for free on YouTube and learn how it’s really done.
Use empathy to make yourself stronger, not weaker.
Empathy is your capacity to understand what the other people are feeling intuitive and is one of our greatest strengths as species.
The thing is when you are anxious your empathy gets all messed up.
You become incapable of understanding what the people around you feel and that alone is enough to drive you mad over time.
See, when you look at someone and get some vibes of contempt from them without any reason you will grow to be very anxious, even if there aren’t any “vibes” like that at all.
Instead of focusing on your crowd and the way they feel as a crowd (herd mentality) try to focus on a single person.
According to Forbes, 10% of people are genuinely terrified of speaking in public and in front of a crowd.
So look at it this way – you walk to a crowd, at the very least there has to be at least one person like you who wouldn’t be doing much better than you are when it comes to this sort of stuff.
They would go through the same ordeal you do and will be just as bad, if not worse – you are far from being the only person to ever mess up when speaking in public.
How is this as a source of empathy?
If you learn to find to one person and focus on them and on them alone you will find very quickly that you suddenly don’t care as much about what most people would think, you know for a fact at least one of them would be horrible at this and this creates a certain emphatic link between the two of you.
You draw strength from that fact, and as long as you keep focusing on one person you will find yourself far less anxious since you don’t have the entire overwhelming crowd in mind.
That silver lining is very important since you do engage the crowd without addressing most of it. It’s a point you can grow from, and the longer you practice this technique the sooner you will be able to address the entire crowd at once instead of just picking one person at a time.
There’s also the other way to look at it: People have empathy too, and they can pick up on the way you feel, so pick up on that theoretical scenario and just go with it, they will see that you aren’t all that nervous and will start to mellow out (even if out of disinterest) and in return you will notice yourself calming down too – since that ‘calm’ vibe is what you are getting from them.
In short – lock on onto one person and have only that person in mind, and then start spreading your attention to the rest of the audience. Don’t go around ignoring the people before you, that will only make your anxiety that much worse.
Start seeking public speaking actively and break your habits
Thus far all solutions were a way for you to deal with your fears, but for you to overcome them you need to actively start chasing them away.
If you get an opportunity to speak then speak.
Without forcing the issue it isn’t going to get any better.
Also, you should keep all of your bad habits in mind when it comes to dealing with you public speaking anxiety. You can’t force the issue, so you could try to harness all of those negative reactions to your favor.
What do I mean?You could act as though your sweaty hand and nervous ticks are marks of excitement, not fear, and act accordingly.
Control your breathing, use your nervous energy to your favor and just go with it – if you don’t your problems aren’t going to solve themselves let me tell you that.
Project Conquest is all about taking action, and if you don’t take action then you are never going to feel any better.
Also, you might want to take a walk or even a jog a bit before an event, as it is proven that physical activities increase your levels of testosterone. Which, as stated, increase your overall sense of “dominance” so to speak.
Unless you actually go through this you aren’t going to get any better, so you might want to start small and make it bigger as time goes on. Talk a bit more when in a large group, for one thing, that will help you in the long run.
Be mindful in what company you do it though, people can be real jerks, so don’t jus
t go around talking with anyone when starting out.
So here is the deal
I am no expert when it comes to public speaking, far from it, I suck.
I do know a few different tricks that helped me in the past, and they will definitely end up helping you out when the time comes.
For now, you could start by simply controlling your body language and talking to people. Heck, you could make a bit of small talk with a cashier. You most likely don’t them and they are being paid to be nice to you anyway, so might as well take advantage of that fact.
If you don’t change you are only going to get worse from this point on, anxiety doesn’t correct itself and it is up to you to correct it for yourself.
Send me an email if you got any questions to ask me and I will be glad to answer every single one of them.
“What did you take from this article and how do you think it will make you better?”
Make sure to answer this question in the comments below, I read every single one of them!