Online Public Speaking

Training & Practice

Speech Related Anxiety - Part 6 of 7


Here’s the next issue that causes speech related anxiety: Lack of preparation. Nothing is more important than preparation. If people were truly prepared, 99% of the world’s public speaking anxiety wouldn’t exist in the first place.

When you’re walking to a podium, preparing to share your knowledge and thoughts and beliefs with the world, and you’re going to be in the spotlight to some extent, and age-old primordial fears plus any learned negative associations you may have are going to be at play, you darned well better be prepared! Who WOULDN’T be nervous if they weren’t prepared?

As we’ve said before: If you closely follow all of the steps in the Learning Path section, you may resolve any anxiety you had just by preparing in that way. Preparation for public speaking comprises learning, implementing what you learned when your write your presentation, and practice. Do this enough, and watch your anxiety melt away!

Without any further delay, here’s the relatively simple list for dealing with anxieties related to preparation.

1) Learn a lot about public speaking

Follow the Learning Path. Or, if you’re short on time, follow the Rapid Learning Area. Self navigate through the Research Area. Whatever you do, just learn all you need to know about public speaking. Do NOT go in unprepared.

2) Prepare your specific presentation well

You have the guidelines here in Pspeak, and hopefully you have the time. Follow the guidelines. Research your topic. Write your presentation. Refine your presentation.

3) PRACTICE public speaking. A LOT

Use our Live Practice Area. There’s no good reason not to practice when you have this resource. Prior to Pspeak being launched we could see your point if you said there wasn’t anyplace to practice. Maybe the nearest public speaking group was too far from your home, or met on nights and times that didn’t work for you, or maybe you tried it but didn’t like the particular group. At home, you only had a mirror to prepare with. But now you have people just like you who are practicing with each other, almost anytime of day or night!

The Conversational Approach

The last cause of public speaking anxiety that we’ll cover is taking a “conversational” approach to a presentation versus taking a “presentational” approach. Inexperienced presenters often expect giving a presentation to be like having an everyday conversation. They expect to speak to the person and get a RESPONSE. That’s definitely NOT how presentations work most of the time. 

Having the opportunity to present to an audience usually means being the only one speaking. To some presenters, expecting even subconsciously to have a back and forth conversation can make the situation suddenly seem stressful. When there’s no response, it starts to feel strange, and the stranger it feels the more it can cause anxiety.

Of course, getting some feedback, perhaps even some questions from the audience, and a reaction from the audience are all positive outcomes of a great presentation, but those are far different from expecting someone else to be doing the talking.

To resolve this issue, when you are giving your presentation, use what we’ll call the “presentation” mode. See yourself as a presenter, not as someone about to engage in a conversation. Many experienced presenters even use a presentation voice and tone. For a quick example, think of President Obama’s speaking style. When he’s engaged in a back and forth dialogue or he’s fielding questions he sounds different than he does when he uses his “speech” voice. You can work on this also. You don’t want to sound canned or annoying by using too much of a “speech” voice, but you’ll find the right balance.

No matter what, if you think this might be an issue you are experiencing, consciously remind yourself that the audience isn’t SUPPOSED to be speaking – you are! Practicing your presentation and real-world experience will also help dramatically when it comes to you becoming used to being the main speaker.