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Overcoming Speaking Anxiety: Harnessing The Power Of Visualization And More

September 25, 2023

Public Speaking.

For many, just the thought of it can trigger a wave of nerves and anxiety. Whether it's presenting in front of a boardroom, addressing a large audience, or even just speaking up during meetings, the fear of judgment and making mistakes can feel overwhelming. But fear not! In this article, we're going to delve into some effective techniques to conquer speaking anxiety, with a focus on visualization, along with a sprinkle of other helpful methods. Let's journey together towards confident and impactful communication!

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By Kesner Laguerre

Visualization: Priming Success In Your Mind

Imagine this: You’re about to step onto a stage to give a presentation. Your heart and thoughts are racing, palms sweaty, and you can feel various parts of your body begin to tense up. What if you could turn this anxious energy into positive anticipation? That’s where visualization comes in.

What Is Visualization?

Visualization is the practice of creating vivid mental images of yourself successfully achieving your goals. It involves using your imagination to create a detailed picture of the desired outcome. By visualizing success, you can prepare your mind and body for the real experience. For example, before an important presentation, you can visualize yourself speaking with clarity, confidence, and engaging the audience. By repeatedly visualizing this positive outcome, you reinforce positive beliefs and reduce anxiety.

The mind is a powerful tool, and visualization can help program it for success.

When you vividly imagine yourself achieving your goals, your subconscious mind starts to believe that it is possible. This programming can increase your confidence and motivation to take action. Consider the story of Jim Carrey, a renowned actor and comedian. Before achieving success, he used visualization as a tool for motivation. He would imagine himself receiving a check for $10 million for his acting services. This visualization helped him stay focused and committed to his goal, ultimately leading to his success. How To Do It: Find a quiet place, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Then, vividly picture yourself speaking in front of your audience. Visualize their engaged faces, imagine your voice projecting clearly, and feel the confidence radiating from you. You’re in control, and you’re doing great!

The Power Of Self-Talk

Have you ever heard the saying, “You are what you think”? Our thoughts have a powerful impact on our actions and emotions. Your mind is a powerful tool, and the way you talk to yourself matters. Instead of focusing on what could go wrong, flip the script with positive affirmations.

Affirmations are positive statements that you repeat to yourself. They are like little pep talks that help you focus on your strengths, build confidence, and overcome negative thoughts.

For example, if you’re feeling nervous before recording a video, you can repeat affirmations like, “I am confident in my abilities,” or “I am a skilled communicator.” By reinforcing positive beliefs, you can shift your mindset and approach the situation with greater confidence.

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Affirmations have the power to rewire your brain. When you consistently repeat positive statements, your brain starts to form new neural pathways. Over time, these pathways become stronger, making positive thoughts and beliefs more automatic.

Consider the story of Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He would often use affirmations to boost his confidence and focus before games. By affirming his skills and abilities, he was able to perform at an exceptional level.

How To Do It: Identify your negative thoughts about speaking. Are you thinking, “I’m going to mess up,” or “Everyone will judge me”? Challenge those thoughts! Replace them with positive affirmations like, “I am well-prepared and knowledgeable,” or “I have valuable insights to share.”

Embracing The Pre-Game Ritual

Think of public speaking like a performance. Just as athletes have pre-game rituals that help them get into the zone, you can develop your own pre-speaking routine. This routine becomes like a combination that unlocks you into a peak state to stand and present confidently before your audience.

How To Do It: Create a calming ritual before speaking. It could be as simple as deep breathing exercises, listening to your favorite song, or doing a power pose. It can also be something you do right before going up to speak, or a combination of things you do day off your presentation. These rituals signal to your brain that it’s showtime and help reduce anxiety. An example of a ritual might be:

Take A Deep Breath

Connect With Your Audience

Most presenters get trapped in their heads worrying about how they will be perceived by the audience. It’s healthy to care about our performance but not to the point where our ego gets in the way.

Speaking is not about you.

Remember, you’re there to share valuable information. And like a $100 USD bill, even with wrinkles in it, it’s still valuable.

Shifting your focus from yourself to your audience can work wonders.

How To Do It: Before speaking, take a moment to think about your audience’s needs. What information can you provide to help them? How can you make their lives easier? Shifting your focus to helping others can reduce self-focused anxiety.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The more you practice something the better you get at it. So, make sure to practice your speech or presentation. You can do this in front of a mirror, or with a friend or family member.

Practicing can help you feel more confident. Think about a song you know by heart. You could probably sing it in your sleep, right? That’s because you’ve heard/sung it so many times. The same thing happens with a speech or presentation.. The more you practice, the more familiar it becomes, and the less scary it is.

How To Do It: Rehearse your speech multiple times. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself, or present to a small group of friends or family. The familiarity of the material will boost your confidence.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Sometimes, speaking anxiety can be deeply ingrained, and overcoming it might require professional help. A speech coach or therapist can provide personalized strategies and support. How To Do It: If your anxiety is severe, consider reaching out to a coach, like a LifeHikes Coach, or therapist. They can help you work through deep-rooted fears and develop tailored techniques for your specific situation.

Speaking anxiety doesn't have to hold you back.

With the power of visualization, positive self-talk, pre-game rituals, audience focus, practice, and professional guidance, you can overcome your fears and become a confident and impactful speaker. Remember, every great speaker was once where you are now. It’s a journey, and with consistent effort, you’ll find yourself improving and thriving. So take a deep breath, visualize success, and step confidently onto that stage!

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