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Overcoming Speaking Anxiety in Meetings and Presentations
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It is found that people do not fear death as much as they fear speaking in public. Fear of speaking is in the first place while fear of dying is in the seventh place. 41% of the people across the world have some or the other form of anxiety with respect to speaking in public. They have symptoms such as increased rate of heart beat, sweaty palms, heavy breathing, and loss of memory! Some of the reasons why people become anxious just at the thought of delivering a speech are: unfamiliarity of the situation, people might not have had prior experience in speaking on stage; lack of self-confidence; self-consciousness; and fear of appearing foolish. One or more of these factors may cause stage fright.

There are certain ways in which people can train themselves to speak to an audience. Lenny Laskowski, the President of LJL Seminars and a world renowned speaker gives the formula to overcome speaking anxiety:

“Prior Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance of the Person Putting on the Presentation”

First step in preparing to speak well is to know the place where you would speak. Familiarize yourself with the place, know the number of audience you would face, and know where you would stand. Write down, in points, all that you wish to speak about. Not knowing your speech will increase your nervousness. Breathing deep and long will ease tension. Breathe 4 to 5 times before you walk up to the stage. You can relax the facial muscles by opening your mouth and eyes wide and closing them. This will concentrate tension on certain points and release it. Creative visualization has proven to be effective in dealing with stressful situations. You should close your eyes and create images in your mind, images of you walking up in confidence and delivering your speech in a composed manner. Science of the subconscious says that what you see in your mind is what manifests itself in reality. If you think of positive situations and place your will behind them, they are sure to transform into external reality. You must understand that the audience wants to hear a good speech. They do not want you to fail. If you focus on your message and speak with clarity the audience is sure to receive it well.

A speech would be more effective if you looked at the audience. Do not look at the roof or at your feet. Avoid using too many hand gestures. Instead, you must modulate your voice. The audience would not know where a paragraph ends and the next one starts. They can understand a change in subject only though your voice modulation. Stand firm. You can even stand with one foot forward if that is comfortable. You can use index cards on which you have written the main points of the speech, just so that you may have a back up. If it is possible, use anecdotes and personal stories.

Speaking in public is an art that can be practiced. Speaking in front of a mirror would show you your facial expressions and body language. You must prepare and practice.

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