How to Speak with Confidence when you Suffer from a Social Anxiety Disorder.

There is a difference between worrying about speaking in front of a large audience and having a social anxiety disorder.

Suffers of social anxiety disorder have a fear of being watched and judged by others. The specific fear of public speaking is known as glossophobia

A significant difference between worrying and having a social anxiety disorder is that a worry will disappear once a speaker steps on stage and starts their speech. 

Anxious and phobic wanna-be orators are nervous throughout the speech, if they actually make it on stage. Pre-speech anxiety fires the fight or flight mode, where the body’s sympathetic nervous system speeds up the speakers heart rate, increases blood pressure, and stops digestion while their mind is in ‘alert – looking for danger’ mode. 

The same reaction, for sufferers of glossophobia, happens in job interviews, speaking at parties, and when giving workplace presentations. This is because the speaker views the speaking activity as ‘life or death’. 

Much research has gone into curing phobias. As a hypnotherapist specialising in phobia removal, I have techniques that I will share with you today to help you to achieve a confident state when next speaking on stage. 

The techniques are so powerful, that during our last Project Charisma public spekaing workshop we cured a speaking phobia during the demonstration of a phobia removal technique.

Symptoms of social disorder syndrome

Some research states that as much as 75% of the population has public spekaing anxiety. 

Do you suffer from glossophobia?

Anxious speakers, prior to the speaking engagement, will constantly find themselves thinking about being on stage. As they see themselves delivering a presentation, they will:

  • Shake their leg uncontrollably 
  • Have a fast-beating heart
  • Blush 
  • Speak in a low voice
  • The voice will quiver
  • Suffer from a dry-throat 
  • Find it hard to breathe normally 
  • Feel dizzy
  • Increase the number of visits to the bathroom

The reason for these anxious symptoms is due to the flight or fight response releasing adrenaline, as the body is being prepared for ‘danger’. But rather than giving you the tools to face the fear, the speaker’s body feels out of conscious control. 

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3 ways to overcome public speaking anxiety 

Confidence comes from familiarity. 

The more a speaking event feels familiar the more at ease a speaker will be. Some vital steps to becoming a confident communicator are to:

  • Speak about a subject you know well.
  • Have a structure but dont stick to a script.
  • Visit the venue several times prior to the speaking engagement; even practice in the venue itself if possible.
  • Arrive early, double-check all equipment and be prepared for when things go wrong.
  • Deliver the speech to a very small audience in preperation.

Don’t fear the unknown.

Professional orators use a speaker routine to get them in the right frame of mind. The speaker routine is similar to athletes’ pre-race preparation or an actor’s pre-performance drill to get them to feel strong, motivated, and confident. 

A set sequence that a professional follows before each event gets their mind and body ready for the performance. 

Speakers can’t control all aspects of the speaking event, this ‘unknown’ creates fear; equipment can break, audiences may be unfriendly and powerpoints can fail. But having an embedded routine helps the presenter feel self-control. 

A pre-speaking routine can include:

  • Vocal warm-ups to help prepare the voice.
  • Stretching to relax the body.
  • Exercise (this may be jumping on the spot) to release dopamine.
  • Purposeful laughing to feel good.
  • Drinking water to stay hydrated.

The best speakers also know their speech topic back to front and inside and out. 

Evidence shows that many nervous presenters will write and prepare a speech, pitch or presentation a couple of nights before the event, whereas skilled orators write, edit and rewrite the speech months in advance, using the extended duration for practice and rehearsal. 

The familiarity of speaking the same lines over and over again until the words flow naturally creates confidence. 

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Remove the fear.

What you focus on, you feel.

The sickness feeling in the stomach comes from the anxious speakers thought process. 

If you think about your next speaking engagement, what do you see? Perspective is everything. 

A confident speaker would see themselves on stage charismatically engaging the audience, imparting knowledge in a clever and entertaining way. 

The nervous presenter will view themselves differently, They visualise a nervous, weak, and intimidated speaker, not knowing what to say, using excessive filler words, and seeing the audience as a group of bored and irritated individuals. 

What you see, you feel. 

If a speaker imagines themselves failing, being nervous, and forgetting their lines the speaker will feel anxious. 

This is because the mind-body cycle reinforces the mind’s thoughts process with an emotional attachment. 

The mind doesnt know what is real life (a real event) and an imagination (thought/visualisation). The associated emotion from being nervous on stage or imagining yourself in a future situation is the same. 

To remove anxiety, you can remove the negative thought. 

  1. Think about being on stage.
  2. Take three deep breaths.
  3. Imagine you can push the thought from your mind’s eye so you can see it floating in front of you.
  4. Pause the movie so it becomes a stilled picture.
  5. Drain the colour so the image is now black and white.
  6. Put the black and white stilled photo in a large frame.
  7. Finally, push the image further and further away from you until it becomes smaller and smaller unit its a dot on the horizon.
  8. Take a deep breath, do you feel less anxious?
  9. Repeat 5 times. 

Anxieties come from two sources, a lack of preparation and a strong associated emotional reaction to a stimulus. To reduce speaking anxiety, the two goals are to:
1) Remove the thought that creates the emotional reaction, and:
2) Prepare and practice to create comfort from familiarity. 

Take our free Stage Ready Speaker
test to score your confidence, content and charisma as a speaker...

Project Charisma deliver online coaching and in-person courses on
confident communication, public speaking & personal development.

To overcome speaking anxiety, create a Ted style speech, or communicate with confidence,
book onto one of our public speaking courses in Manchester, or sign-up for online coaching.

Speakers with Social Anxiety Disorder

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  • Post category:Public speaking
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Over the past 15 years, Chris has built up a reputation as a successful therapist, helping clients to overcome their fears and to achieve their goals. Chris empowers his clients to take control of their own life. Chris’s client led style of therapy is friendly, professional and confidential, and he has developed his own version of phobia therapy which he calls 'fast therapy', which has revolutionised the therapeutic landscape. This technique can allow massive changes in and during one of our sessions, no matter how big your blocks may be.
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