In parts one and two of this series, we’ve outlined the importance of understanding the nature of speaking anxiety, as well as the value of preparation. Moving forward, this article will continue the journey to effective coping and enhancing speaking confidence.
Unlike preparation, you can only gain exposure by speaking in front of others. The basis of this remedy has been well established in psychology for a number of years. If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, the longer that you can endure being in that situation, the more comfortable you will become. The problem is, it’s human nature to avoid uncomfortable situations, and subsequently to remain uncomfortable. For the purposes of developing confidence, consider taking progressive steps toward lessening that fear and anxiety.
The first step is to speak as much as possible while standing. Make an effort to stand up when you speak. You may not want to do this at work when you’re asking a colleague for an office supply, as if you’re making an announcement. But, when appropriate, make an effort to speak while standing up. This effort will make you feel more comfortable while delivering your presentation. Secondly, you should visit your presentation venue (if possible) ahead of time, and take your place. It would be optimal if you could rehearse in the same venue, but in any case, standing while speaking and scoping out your future presentation venue will help you to anticipate your experience. This exposure will lead to reduced anxiety and increased confidence when you deliver your presentation. It’s also worthwhile to have a seat where an audience member would in advance, to gain their perspective. The main idea here is to gain a visual expectation.
Brave New World
Fortunately, due to advances in technology, there are now virtual reality programs and apps available for your benefit. They range in quality of reality simulation and price, but this virtually simulated presentation experience is second only to the real thing. Some of these programs are available on your smartphone, whereas others require you to purchase additional hardware. For the most part, they all will make you appear to be sporting night vision goggles, but to your eyes, you will appear onstage in front of an audience. You can then practice delivering your presentation while attempting to make eye contact and read the audience. This method will also prepare you for your big day by familiarizing you to the sensation of being isolated in front of a group.
To be continued…