Overcoming Speaking Anxiety

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Jan 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/13/98

Overcoming Speaking Anxiety in Meetings & Presentations
Lenny Laskowski
© 1996 LJL Seminars
Do your knees feel like Gumby's when you have to get up and speak in
front of a group?

Do you feel like the next words out of your mouth are going to be the
dumbest words ever uttered by a human?

If you said yes to either of the questions above, be advised, you have a
full-blown case of stage fright, says Lenny Laskowski, a professional
speaker and President of LJL Seminars.

According to the book of lists, the fear of speaking in public is the #1
fear of all fears. The fear of dying is #7! Over 41% of people have some
fear or anxiety dealing with speaking in front of groups. People who
have this fear can experience all kinds of symptoms: Sweaty palms,
accelerated heart rate, memory loss and even difficulty in breathing.

Some of the world's most famous presenters have freely admitted to
nervousness and stage fright. Mark Twain said it best, "There are two
types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars".

Everyone, even experienced speakers, has some anxiety when speaking in
front of a group of people. This is perfectly normal. The best way to
deal with this anxiety is to first acknowledge that this fear is
perfectly normal and you are not alone. To reduce your fear, you need to
make sure you properly and thoroughly prepare yourself before you speak.
Proper preparation and rehearsal can help to reduce this fear by about
75%. Proper breathing techniques can further reduce this fear by another
15%. Your mental state accounts for the remaining 10%.

Below are just a few suggestions you should use to overcome your
speaking anxiety. The first and most important of all is preparation. I
like to think of it as the 9 P's:
•Prior Proper Preparation
•Prevents Poor Performance
•of the
•Person Putting on the Presentation.

Nothing will relax you more than to know your are properly prepared.
Below are 10 steps you can take to reduce your speech anxiety.

1.Know the room - become familiar with the place in which you will
speak. Arrive early and walk around the room including the speaking
area. Stand at the lectern, speak into the microphone. Walk around where
the audience will be seated. Walk from where you will be seated to the
place where you will be speaking.

2.Know the Audience - If possible, greet some of the audience as they
arrive and chat with them. It is easier to speak to a group of friends
than to a group of strangers.

3.Know Your Material - If you are not familiar with your material or are
uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. Practice your
speech or presentation and revise it until you can present it with ease.

4.Learn How to Relax - You can ease tension by doing exercises. Sit
comfortable with your back straight. Breathe in slowly, hold your breath
for 4 to 5 seconds, then slowly exhale. To relax your facial muscles,
open your mouth and eyes wide, then close them tightly.

5.Visualize Yourself Speaking - Imagine yourself walking confidently to
the lectern as the audience applauds. Imagine yourself speaking, your
voice loud, clear and assured. When you visualize yourself as
successful, you will be successful.

6.Realize People Want You To Succeed - All audiences want speakers to be
interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They want you to
succeed - not fail.

7.Don't apologize For Being Nervous - Most of the time your nervousness
does not show at all. If you don't say anything about it, nobody will
notice. If you mention your nervousness or apologize for any problems
you think you have with your speech, you'll only be calling attention to
it. Had you remained silent, your listeners may not have noticed at all.

8.Concentrate on Your Message - not the audience - Your nervous feelings
will dissipate if you focus your attention away from your anxieties and
concentrate on your message and your audience, not yourself.

9.Turn Nervousness into Positive Energy - the same nervous energy that
causes stage fright can be an asset to you. Harness it, and transform it
into vitality and enthusiasm.

10.Gain Experience - Experience builds confidence, which is the key to
effective speaking. Most beginning speakers find their anxieties
decrease after each speech they give.

If the fear of public speaking causes you to prepare more, then the fear
of speaking serves as it's own best antidote.

Remember, "He who fails to prepare is preparing for failure - so
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare"

For more specific techniques on handling nervousness, order our booklet,
"Techniques to Handle Nervousness" or our 60 minute audiotape,
"Overcoming Speaking Anxiety" from one of Lenny's "live" seminars. This
guide will provide you with both physical and mental techniques you can
use immediately to help you reduce your anxiety. You can order either
one of these products through our convenient on-line catalog

Lenny Laskowski, President
LJL Seminars (tm)
106 Schoolhouse Road
Newington, CT. 06111-4002
United States of America
(860)666-4855 or 1-800-606-4855

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