Why is it so difficult to speak in public?
Overcome fear of speech: No more fear of speaking
The hands are sweaty, the pulse is pounding. Fear of speech can downright constrict your throat. Speaking in front of an audience takes a lot of effort from most people. For some it is pure agony. The result is either a stammer or no beep. It doesn't have to stay that way. You can learn to speak in front of other people. What are the reasons behind the fear of speech, why stage fright can help before a performance, plus tips on how to overcome your fear of speech ...
➠ Content: This is what awaits you
➠ Content: This is what awaits you
Talking fear: stage fright can be useful
First the positive sides: stage fright is part of every lecture. It is normal. Even professional keynote speakers with years of experience have it. Also, wet hands and a dry mouth before an important presentation can occur. But that shouldn't unsettle or block you.
Stage fright is useful. It doesn't feel like it, but the tension and nervousness that come with stage fright make a speech or lecture even better. The reason for this is the production of adrenaline. The hormone makes us wide awake, increases concentration and performance. The body is better supplied with energy. In short: the tension helps us cope with the task at hand.
Which situations can trigger speech anxiety?
How strong the fear of speaking is, differs - as with any fear - from person to person. It can also occur in different situations:
- Presentation at school
Talking anxiety can occur in childhood and adolescence. For example, when giving presentations at school. They become an enormous challenge for the students.
- Presentation at the university
Presenting is part of the curriculum at the latest during your studies. In seminars or in the lecture hall, students have to present projects or assignments. For someone who suffers from fear of speech, a horror idea.
- Meeting in the office
Talking and presenting is almost inevitable at work: in a meeting or in front of customers, projects or ideas have to be presented or sold. The greater the pressure to perform, the greater the fear.
- Talk at a family party
Even in a family environment, fear of speaking can become a problem. For example, when you are asked to give a spontaneous dinner speech or welcome speech. No matter how well you know those present: it takes a lot of effort every time.
Fear of speech: What fears do you trigger?
"Logophobia" - the technical term for "fear of speech" - regularly creates a feeling of panic. But what's behind that? Logophobia is one of the social fears. Means: Behind the fear of speech is ultimately the fear of rejection. This fear can be broken down further:
- The fear of failure
Those who suffer from fear of speech are mostly concerned about how their presentation will be received. The fear of failure that one will be embarrassed and rejected in front of the audience creates a pronounced sense of shame in advance.
- The fear of being the center of attention
Shy people in particular hate the idea of being the center of attention. Just the feeling of being watched by everyone present can trigger anxiety.
Talking Fear: How to Overcome Your Fear of Speaking
It is unlikely that you will quit or lose your speaking anxiety overnight. It is deeply rooted in character. It is not infrequently based on negative experiences in the past that shape us. But that doesn't mean that you have to live with your fear. It's just a kind of habit that you need to get rid of again. And that takes a while. Above all, you need courage and perseverance.
The following tips can help you overcome your fear of speaking:
Around 40 percent of people are afraid of making public speeches. So you are anything but an outsider or particularly handicapped. Even more: A large part of your audience knows exactly how you are doing on stage and the stress you are going through. By making yourself aware of this, the pressure often goes down.
If you want to overcome fears, you have to face them. They often go away as soon as we become aware of why or what we are afraid of - and how realistic that is. So feel free to play through the thought in the form of a worst-case scenario: What could happen in the worst case? Would that really be that bad? How realistic is that? Then what could you do? Most of the time the result is: Everything is half as wild.
The better the preparation, the greater the self-confidence. This also reduces the fear of failure. As long as the routine is missing, you should invest more time in preparation. Make notes or bullet points on index cards and practice the presentation in front of friends or the mobile phone camera. All great speakers started small.
If you notice that nervousness and panic are rising in you, short relaxation exercises can help to calm down again (such as so-called star breathing, see graphic). Try different exercises to find out what works best. We recommend the following breathing technique, which can be used in every situation: breathe in normally, hold your breath, breathe out slowly. The technique can be repeated until you feel inner calm.
Okay, this tip sure requires some effort. In extreme cases, however, it can help to overcome fear of speaking: Verbalize your nervousness and ask the audience for understanding. As I said, they can usually understand that. The release and confession usually reduce the tension. The more professional you become, the less you should use the remedy. Unfortunately, it doesn't look particularly confident either.
Insecurity escapes as soon as we look her in the eye. So don't look at the ground, but look for friendly, well-meaning people in the audience and keep eye contact with them again and again. First of all, it seems sympathetic; second, the trick builds your confidence. You can even increase the latter with your body language. If you stand securely and speak upright, the so-called biofeedback drives away the fear of speaking.
Fear of speech often causes us to overinterpret everything or take it personally. Someone in the audience yawns - we already think the lecture is deadly boring. Two listeners are talking - I'm sure they're gossiping about the stupid blah. Of course it's nonsense and a lie of our self-doubt. Try to ignore such false assumptions and take them less personally.
What other readers have read about it
Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.
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