Online Public Speaking

Training & Practice

Speech Related Anxiety - Part 5 of 7

The next issue related to speech anxiety is communication comfort zones. Speaking in front of a group is often scary for the simple fact that we’re not used to it. A speaker may have few deep-rooted issues and plenty of self confidence, yet still get nervous for no other reason than they’re simply not used to getting up in front of an audience! We all have comfort zones in many areas of our lives, and communicating with others is one of them.

If you don’t routinely get up in front of an audience, or are doing it for the first time, it may seem frightening to you in the way someone might be terrified of a roller coaster for the first time. Speaking in public again and again will likely dispel those fears, just like riding that roller coaster twenty times!

The degree to which communication comfort zones may be an issue for you can be directly related to the nature of the situations in which you find yourself on a normal basis.

For example, a businesswoman who is routinely involved in business meetings where she has to give her input to a large group of people will be comfortable being in a room with those people and she’ll be accustomed to speaking to them. Transitioning to being at the front of the room will probably be easier for her than for someone who doesn’t experience the same situation on a regular basis. A writer, for instance, who rarely sees people, let alone groups of people, might find it far more terrifying than our businesswoman if he were asked to sit on a panel of writers who will be answering questions from the audience.

To help expand your communication comfort zones, try these steps:

1) Understand your comfort zones

Recognize that your comfort zones limit you to a certain set of behaviors with which your brain feels comfortable for a reason. Your brain doesn’t want you to stop doing what works, and your brain doesn’t want you to get hurt. It will therefore trick you into thinking that watching your favorite TV show is really that important every Wednesday night, and that your favorite ice cream really is that crucial. It’s worked for you so far, so your brain thinks odds are that it will work for you again. Comfort zones are tricky, indeed.

2) Learn

Nothing conquers a comfort zone like knowledge. When you understand how your brain works, and the dos and don’ts of public speaking, you’ll feel a lot braver about breaking out of your current comfort zones than you will if you have no idea what you are doing. Those who don’t know how to do something are much more likely to be afraid of it.

To learn, we highly recommend following your customized Learning Path from beginning to end. It will teach you everything you need to know about public speaking. If you don’t have the time to follow the entire Path, at least spend some time in our Research Area or go through the Rapid Learning Area.

3) Practice your presentations with others here in Pspeak, a LOT!

4) Speak in public!

That’s right, just do it! Get out of that comfort zone, throw caution to the wind, and just start giving presentations.

5) Sit in on a meeting without speaking

If you’re still struggling with communication comfort zones after all of those suggestions, try going into a few live meetings in the Live Practice Area and just sit in without speaking. No one’s going to make you speak. You can just observe. It’s allowed. Just say something like “Just observing” if anyone asks, or “I’m getting used to the meetings but don’t want to speak yet. Thanks.” You’ll get used to being in the environment in no time and will soon be presenting yourself.