Speaking Fears, Anxiety
by Laura Bresee
October 21, 2015

As quoted by the famous Jerry Seinfeld, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

The next time you are aimlessly searching topics on the internet, do a search for Nervous Images. Is it coincidence that a large majority of Nervous images portray a person speaking within some capacity? I think not.

We have all been nervous to speak. I can assure you that even the greatest orators and leaders, whether they admit it or not, have nervously fumbled a few a speeches along their journeys to the top of the ladder.

Tips and Tricks

You know the symptoms: rapidly beating heart, shortness of breath, feeling hot (and sometimes faint), sweaty palms and armpits, and more. These symptoms make it nearly impossible to speak.

Just as our bodies experience the Fight or Flight Response in the face of a potential or real physical threat, many of us experience a similar fight or flee response in our speech and voice. You likely have little to no awareness of your speech and voice delivery in front of an audience because you are intent on getting out of the situation.

If you are still able to speak under the conditions of fear and anxiety, two common qualities your listeners may perceive in your speech and voice include:

a. Increased rate (speed) of speech

b. Decreased volume

Rapid speech spoken at a low volume is very difficult to understand.

The next time speaking situations evoke feelings of fear and anxiety, do this:

Audio record your speech.
Listen and analyze the recordings objectively (don’t beat yourself up).
Compile a list of characteristics you hear in your speech and voice delivery.
Practice your desired speech and voice delivery in non-confrontational, low stress situations.
With practice and preparedness, you will gain the ability to craft the delivery of your speech and voice in subsequent higher stress, speaking engagements.
Copyright 2015 Laura L Bresee

For relevant brain based learning on “Why Do We Get Nervous,” please watch this informative video presented in collaboration with asapScience and CBC/Radio-Canada


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