Speaking Anxiety – Why It Happens & How to Release It

by | Speaking Anxiety

In the speaking world we often say,

“You don't ever get rid of the butterflies. You simply learn to put them into formation.”

Some highlights on speaking anxiety (the video clip above, which is part of Speak So It Matters – The Online Speaking Course, has more for you):

Speaking anxiety often arrives on scene early. It is stealth.

We may not even realize that it is sabotaging us from the beginning – from the moment we learn we have a speaking opportunity. It's a mean cycle, really, because early preparation is the very thing that helps us be most successful in our speaking. Successful speaking experiences are one of the fastest paths to decreased speaking anxiety over time. If we sabotage ourselves from the beginning, we not only affect this upcoming speaking event – but also the others that will come after it. See how this can snowball?

The key is to recognize and understand your speaking anxiety so you can address it from the moment it arrives on scene.

How do you address this speaking anxiety?

  1. Recognize that feeling heightened energy in your body about speaking is normal (in fact, it can be beneficial to your speaking). It is believed that speaking anxiety is actually a natural part of our biology (watch the video to hear more about this as well as the benefits of what some call “speaking anxiety” and others call “anticipation.”)
  2. Make a plan for releasing some of that extra energy in your body the day of your speaking. You can do this through moderate exercise such as through a brisk walk, a not-too-strenuous run, or yoga.
  3. Use positive imagery to put yourself in the right mindset for success. Imagine yourself in front of the room, delivering your presentation with confidence and clarity. Feel the satisfaction and thrill of a job beautifully done as though it is real and happening in the moment. You will carry some of this energy into your preparation and your delivery if you do this often enough.
  4. Practice many, many times. Nothing beats practice for supporting your own successful speaking.

Also know this: that extra energy in your body actually fuels a far more exciting speaking delivery, if it is channelled well. We will talk more about how to use your body when speaking so that it “dances” with that extra energy (usually not literally… but maybe sometimes 🙂 ).

My favorite anxiety-reduction strategy is this:

I remind myself often that this is not about me.

It isn't about me being perfect or amazing as a speaker. It's about THEM – my audience. It's about how I can serve them with what I know. From this place of service, my heart opens and my fears fade as I focus on making a difference for them.