Understanding fear of public speaking – physical aspects

Anxiety is coursing through your body. You practiced your presentation over and over, so why is your voice shaky, your heart pounding, and your neck flushed with heat? Understanding fear of public speaking can go a long way in helping you conquer it.

Most people focus on content when they are getting ready for a meeting where they have to present. If they’re really on top of things, this process begins well before the appointed date. They write an outline. They find data to back up their points. They may put together informative slides or a handout. Then, they practice and make sure it’s all going to flow. 

Don’t get us wrong. This is the correct approach. But what happens next? The issue is that content isn’t the only thing that speakers need to do. It’s a common mistake to think that this presentation is coming only from your head and that the rest of your body doesn’t matter.

Speaking is a physical act

Part of understanding fear of public speaking is recognizing that your entire body is involved. Your breathing, your energy, your spine, your arms, your legs, your belly, and your heart are all there either prepared and supporting you – or unprepared and letting you completely freak out.

Imagine yourself preparing for a sports event. What would you do to get physically ready? What would you do the week before, two days before, one day before, and on the day itself? How would you make sure that you were getting enough sleep? How much energy and endurance would you need? What plans would you make for getting the right nutrition at the right times?

You wouldn’t show up at a sports event on four hours of sleep, having skipped breakfast, and overdosed on caffeine. So you shouldn’t show up at an important meeting that way either.

Whether it’s a sports arena or a conference room, you will feel a rush of energy when it’s your turn to go. We recommend preparing your body so that it is in good condition to harness that energy. When you do, it’s more likely you will come across as dynamic and engaging.

Use the list of questions above to prepare for your next presentation. Start getting ready for both the content side of things and the physical side of things. See this earlier blog to learn more about the brain science of fear and tips for dealing with negative self-talk. You can also follow us on LinkedIn for more helpful articles.

Now that you have a better understanding of fear of public speaking, we hope your next talk is much less nerve wracking. Good luck and let us know how it goes!


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