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How to overcome the fear of speaking in public? 5 keys

How to overcome the fear of speaking in public? 5 keys

June 17, 2024

Speaking in public is a widespread concern that occurs in almost all people, even those accustomed to doing so for work or academic reasons.

We know that repeated exposure to those stimuli that generate anxiety is the most effective psychological techniques to combat fears for the effect that continued practice has on our competence and sense of self-efficacy, but ... What can we do when we do not have this possibility and yet we need to make a successful presentation?

Understanding the fear of public speaking

Before starting, It is important to know what is happening to us in those moments . As in any situation of daily life, when talking to many people there are three records that are put into play: the physical part (in this case the nerves that can manifest through various symptoms: sweating, facial flushing, increase of the cardiac rate), the cognitive part (composed of what we think, which can be led by an anticipation of failure such as: "I'm going to confuse, they're going to laugh at me, I'm going to do it wrong") and the behavioral: what we do (how the presentation is made).


However, what interests us here is to distinguish the line that separates the objective from the subjective, which often tends to mix. I explain. The only thing that we can manipulate when preparing to speak in public are the objective issues.

For example, we must ensure that the concepts are clear, that the expression is appropriate or that graphic support is relevant . Therefore, the result is related to the amount of time invested in developing the material, our knowledge on the subject or the consideration of the public we are addressing. The rest, the subjective part, as can be the opinion that others make of my competence, if they get bored with what I say or if they realize our nerves, is the one we must renounce from the first moment in which we stand in front of an audience. The trap is served as long as we intend to manipulate that part of the equation, which does not depend on us.


The cognitive side of fear

Before we said that there are three records to consider: the physical, behavioral and cognitive.

As well, even though they are all interrelated, the greatest influence is orchestrated in the last , so it will be where we focus, demystifying some erroneous beliefs that may be useful for our purpose.

The two fallacies of nervousness

First fallacy: one of the most widespread fears is that attendees easily perceive the rapporteur's nervousness . However, these signs are not interpreted by others as we believe, and most likely do not come to realize them. The sweating of the hands, the heart rate, or the fear of not doing well are imperceptible.

The only "detectable" signs are tremor (of the hands or voice) and facial flushing, and even these factors are usually partially masked by the distance that separates us. In general, in the papers the interpersonal distance is at least 5 meters from the audience. If it is already difficult to detect it in the vicinity, several meters away is almost impossible.


We perceive all the details of what we do, but others are left with the general image . The external correlate they have is less than half of what we perceive. In fact, the most useful thing we can do with nerves is to "encapsulate" them, that is, to let them be, given that we have the capacity to think and speak even in their presence, which leads us to the second fallacy.

Fallacy of direct manipulation of states

The most common mistake when we perceive that we are nervous is to try to reduce our tension, telling ourselves: "calm, do not get nervous". But our mind functions under the mandate of the paradoxical intention. That is to say, it is enough for us to say "try not to think about nerves", "try to calm down" so that the opposite happens .

With which, the most effective strategy to not get nervous or increase our nerves is not to try to convince ourselves that we do not have to get nervous, but accept and tolerate the symptoms of our concern leaving them to be so they leave before.

Fallacy of perfectionism

We tend to perceive the elements that surround us from their wholeness, instead of interpreting the details separately.

Therefore, the mistakes made during the exhibition (which represent the details within a whole) and the words not found at a given moment, they go unnoticed by the audience , as do the number of stairs that must be climbed to reach the room or the sheets contained in the paintings that adorn the auditorium. Which brings us to the next point.

The selective attention

As if it were a letter salad, our exhibition works like reading a text: what appears underlined or in bold will attract more attention than words in simple format.

Therefore, if we do not put emphasis on our misunderstandings (following the analogy: if we do not "underline" them) neither will the others in their "reading of the exhibition". As with nerves, accepting and tolerating failures reduces the likelihood of repeating them, encourages our safety and redirects public attention to other aspects.

A final trick to get rid of the nerves

If you want to feel more secure or safe and avoid the fear of speaking in public, one last proposal.

Look at the eyebrows: eye contact is essential to generate a sense of security and confidence in our interlocutors. However, in evaluation situations it can be a distraction or an intimidating element that reduces concentration and increases nervousness. So, if we look at the brows of our examiners, they will believe that we look them in the eyes and we maintain a neutral fixation point devoid of undesirable emotional reactions.


Fear Of Public Speaking - The One Key To Overcoming It Forever (June 2024).


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