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Can ChatGPT Help You With Public Speaking Anxiety?

Can ChatGPT Help You With Public Speaking Anxiety?

I went on ChatGPT and asked, "What can I do to get over public speaking anxiety?"

It gave me these 10 tips below.

In this post, I'm going to show you which of these generated tips are helpful and which ones can cause you more trouble.

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Here's the full response below from ChatGPT:

Public speaking anxiety is a common challenge that many people face. Overcoming this anxiety requires time and practice, but there are several strategies you can try to help you get over your fear. Here are some tips to help you manage and reduce public speaking anxiety:

  1. Prepare thoroughly: One of the most effective ways to combat anxiety is through preparation. Practice your speech or presentation multiple times to build confidence and familiarity with the content. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you'll feel.

  2. Know your audience: Research and understand your audience to tailor your speech or presentation to their needs and interests. When you feel that your message is relevant and valuable to the listeners, it can boost your confidence.

  3. Visualize success: Imagine yourself delivering your speech confidently and successfully. Visualization techniques can help reduce anxiety by creating positive mental images.

  4. Start small: Begin by speaking in front of smaller, supportive audiences such as friends, family, or colleagues. Gradually increase the size of your audience and exposure to more challenging speaking situations.

  5. Focus on your breathing: Deep breathing exercises can help calm your nerves. Practice slow, deep breaths before and during your speech to regulate your body's stress response.

  6. Use relaxation techniques: Explore various relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or mindfulness exercises. These techniques can help calm your mind and reduce anxiety before speaking.

  7. Positive self-talk: Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Remind yourself that you are prepared, knowledgeable, and capable of delivering a successful presentation. Focus on your strengths and past successes to boost your confidence.

  8. Engage with the audience: Interacting with your audience can help shift the focus away from your anxiety. Make eye contact, ask questions, and involve the listeners in your speech. Remember that you are sharing valuable information, and the audience wants you to succeed.

  9. Seek support: Consider joining a public speaking club or taking a public speaking course. These environments provide a supportive community and opportunities to practice in a safe, non-judgmental space.

  10. Reflect and learn: After each speaking experience, take time to reflect on what went well and areas for improvement. Embrace each opportunity as a chance to grow and develop your public speaking skills.

Remember, overcoming public speaking anxiety takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself, celebrate small victories, and keep practicing. With persistence, you can gradually reduce your anxiety and become a more confident public speaker.

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Let's dive into it.

-Kit

First, if you have not heard of ChatGPT...what is it?

Imagine ChatGPT as a very smart robot that can understand and talk to you in the same way that you and I have a conversation. It has been trained by reading lots of books, articles, and websites to learn many things about the world. It gets its responses from what's been accumulated in the online space.

"Overcoming this anxiety requires time and practice"

In the introduction of the response, ChatGPT said, "Overcoming this anxiety requires time and practice."

This is one of the most common norms that people have accepted as the "go-to strategy" to overcome public speaking anxiety. People often say, "Just go do it more.", "Get your speaking reps in." and many more similar thoughts. We are more likely to believe things that we have heard many times than really seek the truth.

You might be surprised to hear that spending long hours and practicing is one of the slowest and most ineffective ways against the fear of public speaking.

The prevailing norms are:

Prevailing Norm #1 - Practice, practice, and speak up as often as you can!

Let me touch upon practice first - They say practice and familiarity breeds confidence and reduces the fear associated with public speaking. Why? Because the more times an individual spends engaging in public speaking or similar activities, the more familiar they become with the process. By repeatedly exposing themselves to speaking situations, they gradually become desensitized to the anxiety-inducing aspects.

Question to you - If you're like any of my clients, then it's probably not your first time speaking or presenting. How many times have you spoken in a similar speaking situation? And how many more times do you think you need? And what do you think you are looking for when you speak 100 more times? If you haven't spoken a bunch of times, here's a hint - the majority of the people I work with, they've spoken a bunch of times in their particular situations and they still feel the same way.

Speaking more does not address the cause: when people just try to speak more, they are not addressing the cause of the speaking anxiety in the first place. 

Exposure is exposure to the feared outcome, not just going in front of a crowd: most people think that I'll just speak more and not show nerves, not show mistakes, not show my voice tremble so eventually it will be better. Let's use voice trembling as an example. Most people will go speak and try to never show their voice trembling. Well, if their voice trembling triggers the speaking anxiety in the first place, then that means this person isn't really getting the exposure they actually need if they never show their voice trembling. But you might be saying, "Of course, I don't want to show my voice trembling!." Yes...that's because you're scared of it! 

The flaw of practice, If you were so good, you'll be okay showing nerves and flaws: Related to what I was talking about above, most people come to me and say, "Kit, make me so good, I don't get nervous, that I don't stumble, blank out or mess up anymore." The truth is...whatever you resist will persist. The flaw in practicing is that most people want to do it "right"..instead of getting comfortable with doing it "wrong." And once, you do it "wrong" so many times, you don't see them as "wrong" anymore. The question is..why do we see it wrong or bad in the first place?

Prevailing Norm #2 - Improve your speaking skills and things will be better.

The thought process behind this is that when one improves their competency, they improve their confidence. As they gain mastery over the necessary skills, their confidence grows, and anxiety diminishes.

Question to you - If you had to say the same things to a friend or a situation where you are already comfortable, can you do it? Do you already know how to structure a presentation, come up with your ideas, or know what you're talking about? (Yes, of course we can improve the skills but I'm saying, can you already do it now?)

You already have the skills - Many of my clients say things like this, "When I talk to my team, I know how to get my message across and say what I want to say...but when I have to speak to the board, I get very anxious." If you can do it somewhere else with different people, then you already have the skills.

If you have been speaking throughout your life, then you have the skills - Now, it's just the perfectionism that's coming in the way. Things like, "I need to say it in a compelling way, a better way, a more coherent way, a better-sounding way." Or "I need to come across with more executive presence.", "My voice needs to be stronger, or it needs to be this certain way." What's getting in a real way is the "it's supposed to be like this way".

Will more money help you be happier? Will more speaking skills really help you become more confident? Okay, yes..having more money and skills does help your life and make it easier. But do you think there are people with a very little amount of money that is still happy or folks with no speaking skills that are still confident? The reason I'm pointing this out is that I don't want you to think you need to depend on more and more skills to eventually help you become more confident.

 

Prevailing Norm #3 - It takes time for you to get more comfortable with your speaking situations.

Why do people believe this? Because over time, as you gain more experience and receive positive feedback or reactions from others, you may start to develop more confidence. Or through time you can learn to shift your attention away from yourself and towards the audience and your message, helping to alleviate self-consciousness. Lastly, it can take time to think differently about our speaking situations which creates anxiety for us.

Question to you -  Have you ever had a perspective shift and then you didn't feel the attached emotions anymore or you completely start doing things differently? 

Change Can Be Easy If You Let It: Most people have the belief Change Is Difficult and when they have that belief, guess what happens? Change is hard and it takes time. Some people also have the belief, People Can't Really Change Who They Are, guess what happens? They believe they are stuck with the same way of thinking and being. Okay, okay... it's not them, it's other people who can't really change who they are! Just as switching from a blurry lens to a clear one instantly transforms the way you see the world, altering your perception can swiftly and effortlessly bring about a positive change.

Spending Time On The Wrong Speaking Methods: Most people are spending time speaking up more, practicing or learning more skills to try to overcome public speaking anxiety. When you spend time on the wrong things, of course, it takes longer. That's like using the wrong screwdriver for the screw. When you have the right methods and tools, everything becomes easier and with less effort.

It Takes Being Open-Minded To Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety: It's not time nor practice that helps people break free from public speaking anxiety. Eventually, it comes back to how open-minded you are. Why is that? Anxiety is created in the mind. It's the overthinking, the self-consciousness, the what-if moments, and the negative thoughts. How fast can it take a person to let go of their beliefs holding the back? It can be quick if they are open to it. It just takes time, if they want to never let go. 

In summary, "overcoming public speaking anxiety with time and practice" is a norm that is accepted and most folks don't question why that is and just accept it as the truth. 

So you might be thinking..."Kit, if spending more time and practice isn't the best thing to do for my public speaking anxiety, then what is?" I go in-depth about the exact game plan on how to beat public speaking anxiety. Click the link here to watch the training.

 

Let's address the 10 tips ChatGPT offered - are they helpful with public speaking anxiety?

All of the techniques given by ChatGPT in this post are helpful BUT they are only helpful short-term and not long-term for helping you with public speaking anxiety.

Let's address each one of them.

Preparing thoroughly - You're probably reading this and you are someone that already prepares thoroughly, in fact maybe it's overpreparing. Yes, preparing does help and if you don't prepare at all then that will make everything worse but the fact is, if you prepare well enough, the anxiety will still be there and that's because preparing does not address the cause of speaking anxiety.

Know your audience - this is similar to preparing thoroughly, it does not address the cause of the speaking anxiety. It helps that you know your audience more but it doesn't even touch why the speaking anxiety spiked in the first place.

Visualize success: It's great to see yourself as the most successful self and how that feels like. However, to what I touched upon above where I said, "The flaw in practicing is that most people want to do it "right"..instead of getting comfortable with doing it "wrong." And once, you do it "wrong" so many times, you don't see them as "wrong" anymore. The question is..why do we see it wrong or bad in the first place?" a better approach is to Visualize Yourself Making The Mistake Or Being Nervous And Being Okay With That.

Start small: This tip is about gradual exposure.  Remember again, "exposure is exposure to the feared outcome, not just going in front of a crowd", so Start Small  (With the thing that's making you scared) - if it's voice trembling that triggers it, begin by speaking to friends and act out your voice trembling, then go on to bigger events.

Focus on your breathing: When you engage in controlled breathing, you effectively manage your heart rate and adrenaline levels, promoting a sense of calmness. However, this technique alone may not fully address the underlying cause of your fear or anxiety. So if you encounter a similar situation in the future, you may still experience the same intense emotions since there is an underlying trigger that remains unaddressed.

Use relaxation techniques: Pretty similar to focusing on your breathing. Applying relaxation techniques to regulate your heart rate and adrenaline is akin to applying a band-aid on a wound without addressing its root cause. While it provides temporary relief and calms you down, it doesn't delve into the deeper layers where the source of fear lies. Therefore, when a similar situation arises again, the same emotional response resurfaces, just like the wound reopening beneath the band-aid.

Positive self-talk: It's good to think in a positive light. However, the flaw in positive thinking is that you still believe the negative one..and you believe it more than the positive one. In our society, we like to add more and do more. Instead, it's also about subtracting and removing. When you just think positive thoughts, you don't clear the negative ones and it's still there.

Engage with the audience: This again will help short term. However, what if they don't want to engage? What will you do then? You'll always depend on a crutch. What you want to do is tackle the cause of the speaking anxiety so you do not need to depend on a friendly face being in the audience.

Seek support: The tip above was to go to a speaking club and practice over and over again. By now, you probably know what I have to say about practice!

Reflect and learn: Reflecting and journaling can be one of the best things you can do... BUT when people reflect on their speaking, they usually try to solve the symptoms. "I was speaking too fast, I didn't say this coherently, what I said sounded so stupid," Let's use speaking too fast as an example, so what do people think they need to do? Speak slower! However, the bigger thing is..when someone gets nervous and because they are nervous, they start speaking faster. So it's really going back to dealing with the nerves.

AND at the same time, we discount all the positive feedback we might get from people thinking, "They didn't really mean it, they just said it just to say it." Our reflecting process turns more into a see how bad I did process. And then the next time we try to work on our speaking, we give ourselves too many things to focus on, we don't focus on anything. Or the next time we go to our speaking situation, we forgot what we wanted to work on in the first place leaving us back to square one.

While the techniques shared by ChatGPT in this post are beneficial, it's important to note that their effectiveness is primarily focused on short-term relief rather than providing a long-term solution for managing public speaking anxiety.

Your Next Steps To Break Free From Public Speaking Anxiety:

  1. Register for my most popular public speaking anxiety training where I go more in-depth about the psychology of public speaking anxiety:  https://www.bostonspeaks.com/nofearspeaking
  2. Join our Facebook group on public speaking anxiety: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nofearpublicspeaking
  3. Schedule a call with my team or me to see how we can help you break free from public speaking anxiety: https://www.bostonspeaks.com/call

To Your Speaking Success,

-Kit Pang

Founder, BostonSpeaks

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