Speaking in Public? How to handle the nerves and anxiety so you don’t freak out for your next big presentation or talk.

Aug 19, 2019

  

(Don't let this be you!) 

 

Because I do a lot of professional speaking and lead workshops on mindfulness and stress relief, people often ask me what they can do to speak in public or deliver their next presentation with less fear and anxiety and with more confidence.

 

 Here are three suggestions you can use right away:

 

Use your breath to reduce your stress from speaking in public.  We breathe about 20,000 times every day providing us an anchor to focus on to help calm us down.  One of my favorite breathing methods is extending our exhaleswhich helps trigger our parasympathetic nervous system responsible for calming our mind/bodies down.  Think of a parachute that slows us down to help us land safely. When you put extra attention and emphasis on your exhale, your out-breath, you activate that internal parachute.  That will help reduce the symptoms we may feel from the fear or anxiety of speaking like shakiness, rapid breathing, stomach aches or other bodily pains, and sweating.   

 

How do you extend your exhale?

 

It’s really quite simple. Just breathe - OUT for a little longer count than you would breathe – IN, all the while putting a little more emphasis/focus on your exhale.

 

Another breathing tool I like is called square or tactical breathing.  It is used by many first responders (Think police, fire, paramedic, military) when facing tense and stressful situations. I use square breathing ahead of competing in sporting events or before I present larger workshops or speeches.  It’s really quite amazing at quieting the mind and calming the body so you can think more clearly!

 

How do you practice square breathing?

 

Just like a square that has four equal sides, you use a 4-4-4-4 pattern of breathing.  You breathe in for the count of four, hold for the count of four, breathe out for the count of four, then pause for the count of four. Repeat this exact sequence a few times and you’ll take a big bite out of your nervousness.

 

 

Use your five-senses to help ground you in the body while you are speaking.   Like driving spikes deep into the earth to help stabilize a tent during strong winds or bad weather, paying attention to your senses can do the same thing for our body. Focusing on any one of our senses can bring us into the moment, calm our minds, and help us from adding more stress and anxiety into our body as we give that talk. 

 

Which senses should you focus on?  It’s really up to you and all are great at getting you right here/right now, but I like to pay particular attention to both listening and seeing before a speech or presentation. 

 

How to use your five-senses to calm you down and help you focus?

 

Take a moment and look around your current surroundings, noticing the different colors you see, the many shapes and objects you see, even noticing the different aspects of lighting and shadows.  When listening mindfully, just notice the different sounds you hear, allowing the sounds to come to you, instead of seeking them out.  You can even play a game like trying to listen for five different sounds or noticing five different colors. Some people also look for the seven different colors of the rainbow.  

 

When you actively engage in any of your senses, you help slow down the part of your brain responsible for activating your fear response and causing all of those anxious thoughts and feelings.

 

Remember Extending Your Exhales, Square breath, and using your 5-Senses.

 

These tools will not wipe out all of your anxiety or stress(Feeling some stress is helpful), but they will definitely lessen the negative impact those distressing emotions can have while helping you stay calmer, more focused, and deliver your talk with more ease.

 

Speak and Be Well,

 

Todd Corbin, CPC

https://www.toddcorbin.com

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