Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com here. Our question today comes to us from Sylvia in South Carolina. Why do I get anxiety attacks while public speaking? What can I do about it?
Well, believe it or not, public speaking is rated the number one fear in America, even greater than the fear of death and disease by the book of lists. Having to speak in public is quite common, especially because we may need to deal with it in our professional lives.
Anxiety attacks in a public speaking forum are more than likely a manifestation of your fear of embarrassing yourself in front of a large group of people. Now this overwhelming sensation of fear triggers your body’s fight or flight response, which in turn stimulates the production of cortisol and adrenaline. The combination of hormones coupled with an abrupt release causes your body to shake and tremble.
As your fear continues to manifest, your prefrontal cortex, the planning and decision making area of the brain, will switch off so that the rest of your nervous system can kick into autopilot. Now in the meantime and on a more physical level, your body will freeze up, your speech will come out all jumbled, incoherent and nonsensible.
The best way to deal with anxiety attacks in public speaking situations is to prevent your brain from overreacting. One method that works well for people is by placing yourself in repeatedly scary situations where there are no negative consequences, so then you can teach your brain fear is nonthreatening.
You could start off by giving speeches in front of your friends, your wife, your family; you could even start off by giving one in front of your dog if you have one. Having a great support group who can provide positive and encouraging feedback can help you build confidence in public speaking situations and overall just put you at ease.
Another tactic is to enroll yourself in public speaking workshops. There a coach can teach you how to pace yourself throughout the talk and mentally prepare you for public speaking. Having the skills to communicate effectively to a crowd of people can immensely boost your confidence and erase any fears you would otherwise have.
If you even want to take it a step further, you could also consider enrolling in improvisation class where you can learn responses to situations that require rapid-fire responses or a level of adaptability, so the best part is that most improvisation classes are comedy centered. What might be embarrassing to you might be entertaining and humorous in a good way to others.
Overall, the most important aspect to overcoming your anxiety attack in a public forum is to practice, practice, practice. Becoming more acclimated and familiar to these type of situations can help you boost your confidence and mentally prepare you for your next public encounter. Being prepared and knowing what to say are also very helpful when you’re confident in what you’re presenting.
If none of these work for you, there are many helpful resources to get over the fear of public speaking at AnxietyBoss.com as well as options, find professionals who can help you to cope with it.