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How to Manage Speaking Anxiety

Victoria LeBlanc, MS, LCPC
How to Manage Speaking Anxiety

Speaking anxiety is incredibly common. For many, it represents simply a fear of public speaking - also known as glossophobia. For others, it may be a fear of speaking at all in any sort of public situation, including when you're out with your friends.

When you get nervous while speaking, your mind has a tendency to cause significant negative self-talk, while also increasing the likelihood that you see negative reactions in others. This is the direct result of living with anxiety, and it is something that you can improve if you treat it correctly.

A Common Phobia That is Tough to Treat

The fear of speaking in public is incredibly common, over 25% of people report anxiety related to public speaking. Even those who are not necessarily anxious about other things may find themselves having some degree of anxiety when it comes to having to speak in front of a crowd.  

While a fear of public speaking is very common there are also some some specific strategies that you can use to help make it easier. One of the first things that you can do is understand some of the causes for your public speaking anxiety. 

What Causes Speaking Anxiety?

There are a number of reasons that a person may experience anxiety about public speaking. Before you learn how to manage it, it is important to realize exactly what causes this type of anxiety. 

These are just a few examples of course. Anxiety about bullying or mocking can cause embarrassment that is strong enough to affect public speaking. Also being in situations like having to speak to a crowd of people who are of a higher status than you (such as experienced professionals or a group of bosses), having to present new ideas, or when you know you are being evaluated based on your performance, can all impact the degree of anxiety you have about public speaking.  

Strategies to Reduce Speaking Anxiety

Whether you're about to lead a big presentation at work or you're simply about to go out with friends and you'll need to socialize with others, there are several strategies you can implement before the engagement that may help you with your speaking anxiety. These include:

There is an anxiety disorder known as social phobia that can make it harder to speak in public, and may make these strategies a bit more difficult. However, utilizing these strategies can lead to more self-confidence and comfort with the idea of speaking publicly. 

After You Speak Matters Too

Speaking anxiety isn't just something you address beforehand. It is something you work on afterward too. Far too many people make mistakes after the event is over that contribute to future speaking anxiety. Once you're done with the event, whether it was speaking in front of a large group or simply trying to talk to others in a public setting, you need to make sure you're continuing to do the activities that will keep that anxiety from coming back. Consider the following ideas:

These are just a few of the ways that you can improve your ability to overcome anxiety after the speech is over. Remember, it is important that you don't think of speaking anxiety as something you need to overcome for one event. You need to treat it like an illness that you're looking to cure, and that means that even after the event is over you still need to keep at it until it goes away for good.

Overcoming Speaking Anxiety is the First Step

It can be a bit of a challenge to overcome speaking anxiety, specifically because it is so easy to avoid most situations where it is necessary. But if you continue to work at it, you'll often find that in the end you can speak in public much better than you ever could in the past.

Still, make sure that you also take steps to reduce your overall anxiety. Anxiety is a cumulative disorder, and if you continue to experience severe anxiety beyond speaking anxiety, you're likely to find it affecting your ability to speak publicly as well.

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