You are standing backstage, just about to make your way on stage, to face the many faces shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move into the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavy and your heart has gone off the charts. Your body’s defense mechanism responds by causing your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a bear.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia (also known as speech anxiety). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even step on stage. What can you do to counteract this fight or flight response? Let’s explore a step by step guide to calm speech anxiety.
1) Preparing Yourself Mentally & Physically
According to the experts, we are built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. Ever look at a friend and say, “Are you okay?” It’s a protection mechanism. If your mind and your body are anxious, your audience will know. Bob Proctor says, “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside”. That’s why it’s important to prepare yourself for the big show, so that you can arrive on stage calm, cool and collected.
A) Exercise lightly before your speech. It helps your blood to circulate and sends oxygen to your brain.
Here are some useful physical ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:
Warming Up – If you are nervous, chances are your body will feel that way too. Your muscles tighten or you break into a cold sweat. If you observe that this is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s a good idea to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. It increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before your presentations.
1) Neck & Shoulder Rolls – Loosens muscle tension and relieves stress and anxiety.
2) Arm Stretches – We often use arms and hands during a speech. Stretching these muscles reduces arm fatigue, loosens you up and improves your body language.
3) Waist Twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions, where it is essential as pain and discomfort can further amplify any anxieties you may already have.
Stay Hydrated – Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then stepped on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? There is a reason for that. The adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to go dry. You can prevent this by staying hydrated. A sip of water will do the trick. However, you know the consequences of too much water as well. Avoid sugary drink and caffeine (diuretics), which will make you more thirsty. It will also amplify your anxiety as sugar & caffeine can make you jittery.
In Part 2, you will discover the mental exercises you can do to calm your speech anxiety and go forward confidently.
Don’t go it alone! Engaging Speakers is here to assist you in conquering speech anxiety. Learn more at https://engagingspeakers.com/
Gail Brown, Founder of Engaging Speakers, firstname.lastname@example.org