This simple trick curbs public speaking anxiety

Focus on them.

Moments before we begin our presentation, we commonly get anxious – this happens to most speakers, regardless of their preparation and experience. So although the directive – focus on them – seems like it would amplify the nerves, it doesn’t.

When we focus on ourselves during anxiety-driven circumstances like public speaking, our mind goes to our inadequacies. Keeping our focus here will only increase the pressure. What we focus on, we become. So if we recognize our nerves and say, “I am shaking” or “My throat is dry”, nothing changes except to make it worse. And though some speakers are able to tell themselves, “I can do this”, their nerves remain for awhile longer although their internal pep talk starts to work.

When we focus on our listeners, we shift away from our negative focus and almost always smile for sheer acknowledgement of our listeners’ attention, which puts us in a positive framework. Most audiences are friendly to begin with, eagerly awaiting a confident speaker. Noticing their nods and acceptance encourages us. Continue to look at those in front of you while you begin your presentation and you will continue positive, confident energy.

Those audiences that don’t begin with a smile are forced to do so in response to ours, or at worst, will look down or away, removing negative energy from us.

Focusing on our audience means more than just using eye contact. 

Begin your message by speaking about them. This can be the circumstances they face, the accomplishments they made, what’s important to them, or whatever means of relating your message to them. Begin with facts, theories or focus on yourself and listeners turn away fast, prompting your own anxiety. Begin with a story or scenario they can relate to and you gain confidence when you see listeners tune in to your every word.

As you plan your next presentation, think about what your listeners most need to know and alert them to it right away. Walk into the room where you’ll be presenting with this focus in mind, looking up, ready to make eye contact. And you’ll curb your public speaking anxiety.

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