Public Speaking Anxiety

Do you freak out when you have to speak in front of people?

Public speaking causes people to react in strange ways. They may find that their hands get sweaty, that their mouth is dry, or that they forgot what they were going to say. In fact, research has found that some people fear public speaking more than death. In college, there will be many times when you are equites to speak in public, whether it is making a comment in a large lecture class or giving a presentation or speech to a class.

Coping with Public Speaking Anxiety: the best way to cope with a fear of public speaking is to be prepared. Practice your presentation out loud several times before presenting it to your class. Practice in front of a mirror, or better yet, recruit some friends to listen to your speech. Have them record your time to be sure that you are on track an ask them to critique your speaking style using the following questions:

-Are you speaking too fast? Sometimes when people are nervous they talk very fast, which makes it difficult for the audience to follow. Don’t rush through your talk. Instead, try to use a conversational tone.

-Are you using good inflection? When people are nervous they sometimes speak in a monotone, which is difficult to listen to for an extended period of time. Try to speak confidently and with enthusiasm.

-Are you jittery? You may find yourself moving from side to side or wringing you hands when you are nervous. It is good to move around a little, such as using hand gestures or walking around to include the audience, but too much nervous movement can be distracting to your audience.

-Are you making eye contact? When you are giving your presentation it may help to focus on one or two friendly faces in the room and “present” to them. You should be sure to make eye contact with the other people in the room, of course. But concentrate mostly on those two people. This strategy should help calm your fear of speaking in front of a large group.

-Have you jotted down some notes? Making some notes to follow during your presentation makes you feel more secure and confident. Even though you have rehearsed your talk and have a good idea of what you will cover, you should have notes of your presentation with you just in case you need a reminder of what you are going to say.

Excerpt from College Success Strategies by Sherrie L. Nist and Jodi Patrick Holschuh.


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