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Overcoming public speaking anxiety in the workplace

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There will come a time, where no matter how much you despise it, you will need to speak in front of an audience. Being afraid of public speaking is fairly common and there are resources and programs which may help you overcome this.

The following are tips which will help you through your public speaking fears. They may be more effective for one-off scenarios, as a more extensive program should be chosen by those who need to regularly participate in public-speaking but experience fear.

  • Write out notes: Write out what you are planning to say clearly. Even though you don’t want to be reading your notes exactly, having them there can alleviate anxiety because if you lose track, you can check your notes and start where you left off.
  • Get there early: It helps to be comfortable with the setting you will be presenting in. Get there when no one else is around so you can familiarise yourself with your surroundings.
  • Imagine the worst: What is the worst thing that could happen to you? Identify your worst-case scenario and come up with a plan for what you would do if it happened. It isn’t going to happen – but what if it does? Most likely you’ll realise that public speaking won’t have career-ending consequences.
  • Focus on the content: What’s most important is that you know what you’re talking about, and talk about it. Why are you giving the presentation? Most likely because you are talking about something you know, or feel passionate about. Focusing on your material and using your knowledge to your advantage might also put you at ease because it transfers the attention from public speaking to your domain.
  • Learn relaxation techniques: The usefulness of relaxation techniques to reduce public speaking should not be underestimated. Deep breathing immediately before you present can help calm your nerves and get your breathing in control.
  • Remember that it isn’t all about you: When you are presenting you are hyper-focussed on yourself and how your body might look or how you might sound. But remember that the audience isn’t going to be nearly as focussed on you as you are on yourself, and they will not notice when your hands shake or you slip up while talking

Dealing with anxiety the right way is much more effective than ignoring it. Remember that if you have to speak in public regularly then a more comprehensive approach is more appropriate.

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