Unpreparedness fear counterattack
How do you overcome the fear that wells up inside you when you just aren’t ready for your big day? Get ready!
If you are a procrastinator, implement a strict regimen to put a stop to your stalling. Give yourself pre-deadlines and reward yourself for staying ahead of schedule. If you are going to speak without notes, practice until you no longer sound as if the speech has been memorized. Whatever you plan to do, make sure you have plenty of time to practice and revise. That should keep the I’m not ready!!! fear in its closet.
Now, about those responses to fear--the physical, verbal, and non-verbal.
Addressing the symptoms of speech anxiety
How you manage your physical symptoms of anxiety will depend on just how severe they are.
There are various medications used to treat general or specific anxieties that can help you as you work to overcome your fear of public speaking. Some medications affect how the brain processes your fears. Others, such as the beta blockers mentioned in the previous chapter, treat the physical symptoms of your anxiety. Cognitive behavior therapy and other counseling methods can also help you learn to remain calm when taking the stage.
For less severe anxiety, simple solutions include keeping a cloth in your pocket to dry your sweating palms or sipping water to quench your dry mouth.
Verbal symptoms of anxiety may include speechlessness or stuttering. You may want to enlist the assistance of a speech therapist or other counselor to help you work through these reactions. Some speakers have been able to loosen their tongues with hypnosis or other deep relaxation techniques.
Now, about those non-verbal reactions to your fear. Countering these is a matter of mind over matter. Once you recognize that you are avoiding situations as a result of your fear, you have to actively choose a different reaction. Again, mindfulness or cognitive behavior therapy may help. Or, maybe you’ll just make a deal with yourself and agree that the next time you start to say no to a speaking opportunity you’ll say yes instead. After all, J.K. Rowling survived.
Of course, this is just a sampling of the methods you can use to overcome your fear of public speaking. Even though the fear is common, your fears are unique to you and will require a personalized approach. If you’d like to investigate further, I found an extensive collection of suggestions for treating phobias at HelpGuide.org.
I also invite you to check out the BostonSpeaks YouTube channel for more tips on how to build your confidence with public speaking.
Or, if you’d rather work one-on-one or attend a live workshop, give me a call! As a public speaking coach, helping my clients overcome their fears is part of what I do. So remember, you aren’t alone and you can overcome your fears. I hope this guide was what you were looking for.