8 Tips for Giving a Speech When You Have Social Anxiety

How to Speak in Public When You Have SAD

You can overcome your fear of public speaking.
Stop hiding your fears of public speaking.. Getty / The Image Bank / Marcelo Santos

Giving a speech can be anxiety-provoking. Below are eight tips for giving a speech when you have social anxiety.

If you have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD) these tips can help you to become a better public speaker while receiving traditional treatment such as systematic desensitization or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

  1. Exercise

    Getting daily exercise can help to manage anxiety, and a good run or cardio workout in the morning of the day of your speech will keep your endorphins running high and anxiety levels low. (Read: How Exercise Can Help Your Social Anxiety)
     

  1. Dress for Success

    Choose an outfit that you are comfortable in, that makes you feel good, and that is appropriate for the occasion. If you wear something that you dislike or that doesn’t fit you well, you will be distracted from giving your speech.
     

  2. Avoid Caffeine

    Coffee, cola and chocolate—remember that the three “C’s” can be high in caffeine and sugar, which you want to avoid on the day of a speech. Try replacing your coffee with a caffeine-free herbal tea and choose balanced meals containing protein to reduce hunger. (Read: Bad Health Habits for Social Anxiety)
     

  3. Meet Your Audience

    Unfamiliar faces can seem threatening, particularly when you are in the spotlight. Try to talk with some audience members prior to your speech. This will help you to realize that they are just people like you, and not there to judge you. At the same time, if you are overcoming SAD, even speaking one-on-one with a stranger might be anxiety-provoking. Know your own limits and try to limit stress before your performance.
     

  1. Admit That You Are Nervous

    Tell your audience that you are nervous. It can be a great ice-breaker and may help to make your audience more receptive. (Read: How to Use Jokes When Giving a Speech)

  2. Use a Conversational Tone

    Keep your audience’s attention by speaking to them the way that you would talk with a friend over dinner. Use a light and conversational tone to make your audience feel at ease.
     

  1. Maintain Good Eye Contact

    When you have good eye contact with your audience, they will feel more connected to what you are saying. Here is a tip—have three or four people that you know position themselves throughout the room and rotate your gaze among them while you speak. If you are comfortable looking around at the audience, try to gauge whether they are keeping up with you or if you need to slow down or explain things in more detail.
     

  2. Focus on Content

    As you speak, allow yourself to become immersed in the topic and how it will help the members of your audience. Shifting the focus off of yourself and on to the content of your presentation helps to alleviate some of the self-consciousnesses that goes along with SAD.

If all else fails and you do feel anxiety creeping up, realize that it’s not the end of the world. If you’ve ever been in the audience when a speaker was struggling with anxiety, you probably felt badly for the person but didn’t think any less of him or her. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to someone else.

Read more about public speaking:

Source:

Grice GL, Skinner JF. Mastering Public Speaking. 5th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon; 2004.

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