Fear or insecurities in public speaking is an issue as old as time. So be rest assured you are not alone in this. Nearly everyone is nervous before presenting, we are all humans.
Being apprehensive is not really an issue, it can be easily contained and overcome. The issue is being too nervous or letting it take control, instead of the other way round.
There are various myths that plague communication apprehension but below are some clarities on communication Apprehension, its causes and how it can be mitigated:
James McCroskey defined communication apprehension as “an individual´s level of fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person or persons”.
Whether small or large groups, fear comes from perceived judgement from our audience. This can also be from a lack of preparedness or practice.
The possible symptoms of communication apprehension include nausea, sweating, dizziness, a faster heartbeat, quivering voices, etc.
CAUSES OF COMMUNICATION APPREHENSION:
1. SITUATION: This is usually triggered by the physical aspects of the communication. For example, the number of people in the room.
2. AUDIENCE: Audience anxiety happens when you are more anxious about the people or a specific audience than the topic.
This kind of scenario plays out when you’re speaking with people of unfamiliar backgrounds, for example, tribe, religion culture.
When this happens there’s extra focus on not saying the wrong thing or getting an unexpected reaction, than on the presentation itself.
3. GOALS: The speaker’s desired outcome could also increase his nervousness, especially if he feels his goal might not be achievable.
Example: Asking the audience for a large sum of money to keep a company afloat
INSTRUCTION AND PRACTICE: When you’re skilled at something, your confidence skyrockets. People who do not like presenting often try to avoid it. But practising and building confidence is an effective way of combating apprehension.
WELCOME ANXIETY: Anxiety is something that will always come to play in Public Speaking but embracing it is key. An expert on communication apprehension recommends that you write out an anxiety management plan describing how you will respond.
Eventually, you’ll learn to take it as a strength and not a weak point.
REFRAMING: Reframing something in your own language helps you understand and explain it better. The same goes for the audience, if you reframe them in your mind as people you could be familiar with and remove all bias about them, you’ll be more comfortable expressing yourself.
WINNING THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS: Expressing your fear by writing or saying them out, asking and answering questions on why you should be scared, helps improve anxiety.
Doing this regularly gives you that self-confidence you require to take the adequate step.
STAYING IN THE PRESENT: Fear of the unknown can trigger anxiety. Negative thoughts or fear of an unsuccessful outcome would impair you from confidently giving your presentation.
You need to focus on the most important; making sure your audience is positively impacted by your presentation and they understand it implicitly.