How to Control Your Anxiety When Public Speaking

man public speaking in front of a group of people

This is a guest post for the MELD Coworking blog written by Maxwell Donovan.

Working at home is awesome. 

You get to work on your pajamas, enjoy a flexible schedule and no boss looking at you with laser eyes as you sit, feet up, on your desk. However, it also means that you don’t get the physical bond and interaction that you would have if you worked in the same office.

Sure, you get to talk to them through email, or if you’re working as an outsourced remote employee you get to see them once in a while during corporate events. And this isolation can bring you the disadvantage of panicking when you’re suddenly asked to be a speaker at a business event or conference

Most people experience some degree of anxiety or nervousness when they perform on stage or give a presentation or speech. Some can cope with the occasion even though they won’t be able to enjoy it, some fall under total panic and end up leaving the stage before they can finish and others deliberately avoiding any situations that would have led to public speaking. 

As a professional, you do not want this. So, how do you cope with your public speaking anxiety?

people sitting in a blue room watching a presentation

1. Remember Why You’re There

Typically, when you’re invited to become a speaker and stand on a stage is because people value your knowledge and expertise or that whoever asked you has confidence in your capability. 

You might be speaking about your working experience and techniques that help aspiring employees, a recent publication or research that you successfully tested. 

Relax and remember, people are not there to give you a hard time, rather they are truly grateful that you are speaking on stage and sharing your wisdom. 

2. No Rushing

Talking way too fast that every word sounds gibberish is common with the inexperienced and nervous speakers. However, that increases the odds of offering too much information and context to people who simply can’t cope and understand you and simply give up on listening. 

Here’s a tip for you:

Do not be afraid to introduce pauses and longer breaks. You can convey a message, build some tension, speed it up a bit then hit the brake. 

And we’re not saying you should be painstakingly low like grandmas telling stories about their childhood. No, you need to be on the right tempo. It will require some practice but it will surely make a difference. 

microphone to help with public speaking

3. Scripts Are Helpful, Just Don’t Memorize All Of It

What are you most afraid of during your class recitations? Forgetting what to say and getting lower marks. This stands true with public speaking. Standing at the center of the stage, talking calmly, when you get lost and forget the next part, you’ll surely break out in cold sweat. 

In this case, scripts are handy. Even the most notable public speakers have used scripts to help them out during those moments. But, don’t make a 3-page back-to-back script that contains every word you’re going to say and memorize all of it. Once you forgot something, you will have the scary long pause trying to search for the next word.

A better approach is to create a script in a series of bullet points or listing themes or connecting sentences on cue cards. This should make your speech more genuine and less rehearsed. 

an public speaking at a coworking space

4. Practice Makes Perfect

Public speaking is not something that you can only practice at the conference or during a training course. There is plenty of work you need to put in your body language, pronunciations, preparing examples and following the right pace. 

As a remote employee, there are plenty of virtual webinars or conferences that you can participate in. Or you can even check YouTube channels or podcasts, testing new strategies weekly to practice and hone your public speaking skills while helping you cope with your fear.  Another strategy is to join a coworking space, as coworking spaces offer meeting rooms where you can practice your speech as well as fellow remote workers who can give you feedback!

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