How can students overcome fear and anxiety in public speaking?

By Scott Fish on 10 September 23 Blog
Why Students Should Develop Public Speaking Skills

Public speaking in academic settings is often a safe environment for students to practice their public speaking skills that will be useful as they move through education and into a career field. It’s not always easy to stand up in front of your friends and peers and deliver a captivating speech during class.  Follow these strategies for overcoming your fear of public speaking and ways to reduce your anxiety so that you can achieve and grow to prepare for your own future.


Understanding Your Anxiety

Anxiety, especially related to public speaking, is common among high school students. It’s a natural response to the fear of the unknown or of potential judgment. For most students, their anxiety stems from the fear of making mistakes, being incapable, or fearing a negative reaction from the audience. Understanding the root cause of your anxiety is the first step towards managing it.

Knowing what triggers your anxiety can help you to anticipate and prepare for it, making the situation less intimidating. The fear often lessens when you know what to expect. For example, if you’re anxious about forgetting your lines, practice can make you familiar with your material, reducing the likelihood of blanking out. Remember that even the most seasoned speakers were once beginners and no one is immune to making mistakes. What matters is the ability to bounce back from these missteps with grace and humor.

Techniques for Managing Fear

Overcoming fear is not about completely eliminating it, but learning how to manage it effectively. One of the most effective ways to manage fear is through adequate preparation. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to fear the unknown.

Breathing exercises can also be immensely helpful in managing fear before and during your speech. Deep and slow breaths can calm your nerves, steady your voice and give you a sense of control over your body. Another valuable technique is progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to alleviate tension in the body.

Lastly, avoid perfectionism. It’s important to strive for excellence, but demanding perfection can heighten your fear and set unrealistic expectations. Embrace the fact that mistakes are a part of the learning process, and every presentation is a chance to improve.

Practice Makes Perfect

There’s truth in the old adage “practice makes perfect”. This saying is particularly relevant when it comes to public speaking. The more you practice your speech, the more comfortable you will become with the material, your delivery, and dealing with your nerves. But remember, practice doesn’t just involve repeatedly reciting your speech out loud. It’s about practicing effective speech habits, reviewing your performance, and focusing on areas you need to improve.

One of the benefits of joining a public speaking program in Boston, like ours, is the opportunity to practice in a safe and supportive environment. In our classes, you can experiment with different strategies, learn from your peers and receive constructive feedback. Regular practice takes you out of your comfort zone and gradually makes public speaking a natural part of your skill set, reducing fear and building confidence over time.

Positive Affirmation and Visualization

Positive affirmations and visualization are powerful techniques that can help you to manage your fear of public speaking. Studies have shown that positive self-talk can boost confidence and performance. Positive affirmations can be as simple as telling yourself, “I am capable”, “I am prepared”, or “I can do this”.

Visualization, on the other hand, involves mental rehearsals where you visualize doing well in your speech. The intention is to create a successful outcome in your mind, which can help to reduce fear and anxiety. Take a few moments before your speech to relax, close your eyes, and imagine yourself delivering your speech confidently and effectively. Visualize the audience reacting positively. This can help to create a sense of calm and positive expectation, making the actual performance less daunting.

Looking for public speaking classes for high school students near me?

Remember, public speaking is a journey. With every speech you deliver, you are one step closer to becoming an effective and confident public speaker. At A+, our Boston based public speaking classes provide the skills you need to achieve comfort and success in public speaking. We are here to guide you through every step of this journey. With our proven strategies and your determination, public speaking can change from something you fear to a skill you cherish.