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How to Reduce Presentation Anxiety

Throughout our life there are times when we need to speak in front of a group. It might be a work presentation, giving a toast, or giving an award acceptance speech, or speaking up for a cause. It is natural to be nervous.

Sometimes though our nervous go into overdrive and develop into high-level stress and anxiety. Here's one strategy that will help you combat your anxiety.

It is called the The Worry Experiment from the book The anxiety first aid kit. It is a great book with 90 strategies for combating worry. You can find links to the book in the description below. Here's how it works.

Create a sentence of no more than 25 words. It helps to write it in the form of a What if question.

That sentence should include:

  • the terrible event you fear
  • the long-term consequences of the problem
  • the angst you will feel in the future when you remember the event.

Here are examples from bad to good related to public speaking.

A Bad example is: What if I get really nervous during my presentation?

A better example is: What if I get really nervous during my presentation, and then start sweating and trembling?

A good example is: Good example: What if I get really nervous during my presentation, and then start sweating and trembling, pee in my pants, and people avoid me for the rest of my life?

This last example demonstrates how to include each of three elements to make it impactful.

Now sit in front of a mirror and slowly and slowly say the sentence out loud 25 times. Use tick marks to keep track so you can concentrate so you can concentrate on saying the sentence. It is best if you can do this without interruption.

Once you are done, compare how you felt from the first sentence to the last. Most likely, by the end, you don't feel as anxious anymore.

Also, use this time to gain a better understanding of your worry patterns and how you respond to them. It is often the unknown that causes the fear to spiral into high levels of anxiety. As soon as you put words to your fear it can lessen its impact.

Remember this is just one technique of many that you try. And I highly recommend the book The anxiety first aid kit.

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About the author 

Jennifer

Jennifer has 15+ years of public speaking experience - ranging from groups of 5 to 5000. She draws from her experience as an instructor, academic, and librarian to help others with their presentation skills. When not presenting she loves creating and designing online courses, video, images, slide decks, handouts, conference posters, and infographics.

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