From the Lab: Three New Techniques for Easing Your Nerves

I’m always looking for new ways to help nervous speakers, and yesterday, Sara Seamons of GoReact delivered in a great article at Presentation Guru. The whole article is worth a read, but here’s an executive summary of the findings.

  1. In a recent study, researchers found that how nervous you feel is directly correlated to how prepared you feel, which supports my advice in The Science of Speaking to know your content, your audience, and your setting. The less uncertainty there is surrounding your speech, the less nervous you will feel about it.
  2. In the same study, researchers found that making positive associations about speaking can also significantly reduce your speaking anxiety. While in The Science of Speaking, I show how visualization can help you do this, this study revealed another way: to receive positive feedback on your speech. Whether it’s positive feedback from your instructor and peers in a public speaking class, or simply positive feedback that you solicit from a friend, being told that you’re actually pretty awesome at speaking can significantly reduce your speaking anxiety.
  3. According to several other studies, recording your presentations and watching them afterwards can significantly reduce your speaking anxiety as well. While it’s not always the easiest thing for us to do, watching ourselves on video is a great way of get a realistic view of how we’re doing, which feeds straight back into strategy #2. (Seamons’ company, GoReact, provides an easy way to do this—more on this in a future post.)

While it can often seem like there’s nothing we can do about our stage fright, science shows that this belief is unfounded. There are many different strategies that have been found effective, you just have to know where to look.

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