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how to control anxiety when talking

How To Control Anxiety When Talking?

Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is a prevalent concern that impacts around 75% of individuals, manifesting as anything from slight nervousness to overwhelming anxiety and panic. This spectrum of anxiety when talking can significantly hinder one’s ability to communicate effectively. Nonetheless, recent studies and expert recommendations highlight that methods such as preparation, regulated breathing techniques, and positive visualization can play critical roles in managing these anxiety symptoms. Insights from neuroscience reveal understanding the functions of the amygdala and the vagus nerve can also contribute to anxiety reduction, offering a more profound comprehension of the physiological underpinnings of anxiety.

how to control anxiety when talking

Given the pervasiveness of public speaking anxiety, the article aims to navigate through an array of strategies designed to mitigate nerves and foster confidence in communication settings and letting you know how to control anxiety when talking. From embracing preparation practices, leveraging breathing and relaxation exercises, to engaging in positive thinking and visualization, readers will be guided through techniques validated by the latest research and psychological insights. This article not only addresses how to control anxiety when talking but also delves into more structured approaches like interaction with speech coaches, participation in groups like Toastmasters, and the potential benefits of anti-anxiety medication, offering a holistic perspective on overcoming speech and presentation anxiety.

Understanding Anxiety and Its Impact on Communication

Social anxiety disorder, a prevalent form of anxiety, manifests through an intense fear of being scrutinized or negatively judged by others. This condition can significantly disrupt daily activities such as work and social interactions. Key symptoms include:

  • Physical Reactions: Blushing, sweating, and a rapid heart rate.
  • Behavioral Changes: Avoidance of social situations due to intense fear or anxiety.

Anxiety not only affects personal well-being but also impairs communication skills critical for effective interpersonal interactions. The impact on communication can vary but typically includes:

  • Cognitive Impairments: Distracted thinking, overthinking, and difficulty maintaining focus.
  • Verbal Challenges: Stumbling over words, decreased verbal fluency, and trouble articulating thoughts clearly.
  • Non-verbal Cues: Poor eye contact and defensive body language, which may send unintended negative signals to others.

For individuals in roles requiring high levels of interaction, such as nursing supervisors, maintaining emotional stability is crucial. These professionals often develop skills to manage stress and communicate effectively, even under social pressure. However, without these skills, anxiety can lead to:

  • Reduced Social and Professional Opportunities: Difficulty in forming relationships and networking can lead to missed educational and employment opportunities.
  • Impaired Social Skills: Challenges in non-verbal communication, conversation skills, and assertiveness can further isolate individuals, preventing them from building confidence in social settings.

Addressing these communication barriers involves understanding the specific challenges posed by anxiety and employing strategies such as role-playing, therapeutic interventions, and practicing assertiveness to enhance social skills and reduce anxiety’s impact on communication.

Preparation Techniques for Reducing Anxiety

Preparation Techniques for Reducing Anxiety

Getting Ready:

  1. Topic Selection: Choose a topic that genuinely interests you. This natural curiosity will motivate you to delve deep and understand the subject thoroughly, which in turn reduces anxiety.
  2. Know Your Audience: Tailor your content and delivery by understanding the demographics and expectations of your audience. This alignment can significantly boost your confidence.
  3. Practice Makes Perfect: Regular practice sessions, initially alone and then in front of a friend or small group, help acclimate you to the act of presenting.
  4. Mental and Physical Preparation:
    • Aerobic Exercises: Engage in physical activities such as jogging or yoga to decrease anxiety by up to 50%.
    • Nutrition: Consume foods rich in tryptophan and complex carbohydrates like dairy products, turkey, and whole grains to stabilize mood and energy levels.
    • Adequate Sleep: Ensure you are well-rested before the day of the presentation to maintain optimal cognitive function.

The Day of the Presentation:

  • Pre-Talk Preparations: Eat a balanced meal several hours before, dress comfortably yet appropriately, and perform last-minute practice runs.
  • Anxiety Reduction Techniques: Utilize deep breathing exercises or brief aerobic exercises to manage physical symptoms of anxiety.
  • Positive Visualization: Spend a few moments visualizing a successful presentation to boost confidence.

Additional Considerations:

  • Continuous Exposure: Regularly seek opportunities to speak publicly. This exposure gradually desensitizes the fear associated with public speaking.
  • Professional Resources: Consider engaging with organizations like Toastmasters International or seeking advice through counseling services to refine your skills and manage anxiety effectively.
  • Feedback and Adjustment: Use tools like video recordings of your practice sessions to analyze and improve your performance.
how to control anxiety when talking

Breathing and Relaxation Exercises

Breathing and relaxation exercises are pivotal in managing anxiety during public speaking or conversations. These techniques help stabilize the physiological responses triggered by anxiety, allowing for a calmer and more composed delivery.

Breathing Techniques:

  1. Deep Breathing: Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to expand, and exhale slowly through your mouth. This can be practiced with counts, such as inhaling for four seconds and exhaling for four seconds, known as equal breathing.
  2. Long Exhale Technique: Focus on making your exhale longer than your inhale to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm the body.
  3. Resonance Breathing: Inhale and exhale slowly for six seconds each. This can be done for up to 10 minutes to reduce acute anxiety.
  4. Alternate Nostril Breathing: Close off one nostril, inhale through the other, then switch during the exhale. This helps balance the body’s bioenergetic fields.

Relaxation Exercises:

  • Guided Meditation: Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. Use calming recordings to focus and relax your mind while maintaining steady breathing.
  • Visualization: Imagine yourself in a peaceful scenario or successfully delivering your speech. This positive imagery helps shift focus from anxiety to confidence.
  • Muscle Relaxation: Progressively tense and then relax each muscle group, starting from your toes and moving up to your head. This technique reduces physical anxiety symptoms and can be combined with deep breathing for enhanced effects.

Incorporating these exercises into your preparation routine can significantly alleviate the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety, enabling a more focused and effective communication.

Practical Tips for During the Speech or Conversation

During your speech or conversation, it is crucial to engage actively with your audience to manage anxiety effectively. Here are practical tips to help you maintain composure and connect with your listeners:

  • Engagement and Tools:
    • Utilize visual aids like PowerPoint presentations, video clips, and handouts to shift some focus away from yourself and keep the audience engaged with the content.
    • Incorporate humor judiciously to lighten the mood and create a bond with the audience, making the atmosphere less formal and more relaxed.
  • Visualization and Confidence Techniques:
    • Briefly employ visualization techniques right before you begin; envision yourself succeeding and speaking confidently.
    • Dress in a way that boosts your confidence. Adopt a confident posture and make deliberate movements to project assurance.
  • Interaction and Perception:
    • Make eye contact with friendly faces in the audience to ease nerves and foster a connection.
    • Interpret any anxiety symptoms as excitement, which can psychologically reframe your state of mind from nervous to energized.
    • Use the physical space effectively by moving around, which can help release pent-up energy and make you feel less confined.

These strategies not only help in reducing the perceived anxiety but also enhance your ability to deliver a more impactful and confident presentation.

how to control anxiety when talking

The Role of Positive Thinking and Visualization

Positive thinking and visualization are powerful tools for managing public speaking anxiety. By focusing on positive outcomes and mentally rehearsing your success, you can significantly reduce feelings of fear and increase your confidence. Here’s how to incorporate these techniques effectively:

Positive Thinking Strategies:

  • Challenge Negative Thoughts: Identify and actively dispute fears or negative predictions about your performance. Replace them with more realistic and positive outcomes.
  • Affirmations: Before your presentation, recite affirmations that reinforce your capabilities and calm your mind. For instance, “I am prepared and my message is important.”
  • Focus on Generosity: Shift your perspective from self-evaluation to audience service. Concentrate on the value and support you are providing to the audience, which can reduce stress-inducing amygdala activity.

Visualization Techniques:

  • Mental Rehearsal: Regularly practice visualizing your entire speech from start to finish. Include details like the setting, your movements, and the audience’s positive reactions.
  • Process Visualization: Imagine the steps you’ll take to deliver a successful presentation, from setting up your materials to the final applause. This helps build a mental blueprint of success.
  • Post-Event Visualization: After practicing or delivering your speech, visualize positive feedback and personal satisfaction, reinforcing your confidence for future situations.

By integrating these methods into your preparation routine, you can cultivate a mindset that not only manages anxiety but also enhances your overall presentation skills. These strategies, supported by research indicating an average anxiety reduction of 11.60% through positive self-talk, demonstrate the effectiveness of cognitive approaches in overcoming public speaking fears.

how to control anxiety when talking

Seeking Professional Help and Support Groups

Seeking professional help and engaging in support groups are crucial steps for those whose anxiety does not improve through self-help techniques alone. Here are the options available:

Professional Therapy Options:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A skills-based approach that is highly effective for reducing fear associated with public speaking by restructuring negative thought patterns.
  • Exposure Therapy: Gradually exposes individuals to the fear-inducing stimuli, helping to reduce anxiety over time.
  • Medications: Anti-anxiety medications or beta-blockers may be prescribed to help manage symptoms during particularly stressful situations.

Support Groups and Training Programs:

  • Toastmasters International: Offers a supportive environment to practice public speaking and leadership skills across various chapters worldwide.
  • Speak Meister: Provides courses and practice clubs specifically designed to combat speaking anxiety.
  • Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA): Offers resources like peer-to-peer communities and free webinars focusing on anxiety management.

Finding the Right Help:

  • Therapist Directories: Use resources like the ADAA’s therapist directory to find a professional specializing in anxiety disorders to strengthen public speaking nerves.
  • Local and Online Support Groups: To overcome public speaking phobia and speech anxiety engage with groups that provide a platform to share experiences and coping strategies, such as the National Social Anxiety Center, which has multiple regional clinics across the U.S.

These resources not only offer professional guidance but also a community of individuals facing similar challenges, providing a network of support and encouragement.


Throughout this article, we have delved into various strategies and insights aimed at controlling public speaking anxiety and answering how to overcome public speaking anxiety. From preparation techniques, grounding strategies, visualization strategies, communication apprehension, managing stress, performance anxiety, security blanket, self-confidence, fight or flight response, breathing exercises, and relaxation exercises, to the positive power of visualization and thinking, we have explored a comprehensive landscape of methods validated by current research and expert recommendations. These methods will also serve as public speaking anxiety tips and help overcome nervous habits and challenge negative thinking.

how to control anxiety when talking

Moreover, the role of professional help and support groups has been highlighted as a vital resource for those seeking additional assistance, underscoring the importance of a supportive community and expert guidance in overcoming the challenges posed by public speaking anxiety. As we conclude, remember that mastering the art of anxiety-free communication is a journey of small steps leading to significant breakthroughs. Also, use humor, aerobic exercise, and look for anxiety treatment if social anxiety disorder is severe.

What can I do to reduce anxiety while speaking?

To alleviate anxiety during speaking, try these techniques:
•Overcome negative thoughts by using positive affirmations. You can write these on 3 x 5 cards or have friends provide inspirational messages.
•Anticipate a positive outcome and success in your engagements.
•Familiarize yourself with the speaking venue beforehand if it’s a new location.
•Incorporate daily aerobic exercises, as they can reduce anxiety levels by up to 50%.

What causes anxiety during public speaking?

Anxiety during public speaking often stems from perceiving the audience as a threat, similar to how one might view a predator. This perception triggers a physiological response that is akin to responding to actual danger, including symptoms like shortness of breath, facial flushing, and trembling.

What is the 3-3-3 rule for managing anxiety?

The 3-3-3 rule is a practical technique to manage acute anxiety. When feeling overwhelmed, you should:
•Identify three objects you see around you.
•Listen and name three sounds you can hear.
•Move three different parts of your body.
This method helps in grounding and refocusing your mind during anxiety-inducing situations.

How can I overcome anxiety related to speaking?

To combat speaking anxiety, consider these strategies:
•Preparation is key. Ensure you are well-versed with your material.
•Practice your speech multiple times and start practicing well before the event.
•Get accustomed to the speaking environment by visiting the space beforehand.
•Look for familiar faces in the audience to ease your nerves.
•Visualize a successful presentation to boost your confidence.
•Physical activities like shaking or stretching can help release built-up tension.
•Focus on breathing techniques to maintain calm.
•Utilize available resources to enhance your presentation and comfort.

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