Fear of public speaking is very common and is a major cause of stress at work. But how does one deal with stress and feel good about speaking in front of groups?
Initially, it is best to understand some of the underlying causes of public speaking stress. They differ for everyone yet there is a common denominator for many. Simply put, speaking in front of groups can trigger uncomfortable emotions from previous experiences.
For example, think about a time as a youth in school and raising your hand to speak or answer a question only to receive ridicule, laughter or perhaps harsh feedback. These typical events cause reluctance to not want to “speak up” and contribute later during classroom, life and work environments.
This uncomfortable memory is filed away (usually into our subconscious) and the same feeling state associated with the event in also filed away with it. Then the anxiety peaks its head at the very thought of speaking in front of groups.
Panic and a crippling nervousness may also be felt. The stress can start at the very thought of having to speak, or when planning the talk, and when delivering the talk. Additionally, it can continue several minutes after the talk as the body is de-stressing from the actual feeling state experience.
It is usually the feeling state, that is, stress and anxiety, etc., that is triggered that causes many people to deal with stress by avoiding speaking situations at all costs. Some say they would rather “die” than speak in front of a group. Some careers have not flourished because of the fear of moving into positions that require presentations to clients, staff or coworkers, etc.
Additionally, fear of public speaking can also surface when asked to deliver a toast at a wedding, a eulogy, or when asked to share a simple prayer at meal time. It is the “feeling state” that is immobilizing and the state that one wants to avoid.
So what can be done to deal with stress in a public speaking situation? Practice of course is always beneficial to assist with speaking fears. Yet to get emotional relief, requires understanding the emotional intelligence associated with ones feeling state. Once this is identified and “released” the anxiety and fear dissipates. It is a skill that can be learned. The anxiety and nervousness lessens noticeably and ones speaking comfort and confidence increases naturally.