Public speaking is a prevalent concern among almost everyone, even those who are accustomed to doing so for professional or academic reasons.
We know that repeated exposure to these stimuli that cause us anxiety is one of the most effective psychological techniques for addressing fears about the effect of continued practice on our competence and sense of self-efficacy. , But … What can we do when we don’t have this opportunity and yet have to make a successful presentation?
Understanding the fear of public speaking
Before starting, it is important to know what is happening to us right now. As in any situation of everyday life, when speaking in front of many people, three registers come into play: the physical part (in this case, the nerves which can manifest themselves by various symptoms: sweating, redness of the face, increase heart rate), the cognitive part (composed of what we think, which can be led by an anticipation of failure such as: “I’m going to be wrong, they will laugh at me, I’m going to do it badly” ) and the behavioral part: what we do (how the presentation is done).
However, what interests us here is to distinguish the line separating the objective from the subjective, which often tends to merge. Let me explain: the only thing we can manipulate to prepare for public speaking are objective questions.
For example, make sure that the concepts are clear, that the expression is appropriate or that the graphics are relevant. Therefore, the result is related to the time invested in the preparation of the material, our knowledge of the subject or the consideration of the audience we are addressing. The rest, the subjective part, like the opinion other people have of my competence, if they are bored of what I’m saying or if they realize our nerves, is the one we have to let go from the first. moment we stand. in front of an auditorium. The trap is served whenever we try to manipulate this part of the equation, which is not up to us.
The cognitive side of fear
We used to say that there are three registers to consider: the physical part, the behavioral part and the cognitive part.
so good, Although all are interdependent, the greatest influence is orchestrated in the latterSo that will be where we focus, debunking some misconceptions that might be useful to our purpose.
The two errors of nervousness
First mistake: one of the most common fears is that participants easily perceive the nervousness of the speaker. However, these signals are not interpreted by others as we believe, and it is highly likely that they will not realize them. Hand sweating, heart rate, or fear of not doing well are imperceptible.
The only “detectable” signs are tremors (of the hands or voice) and flushing of the face, and even these factors are usually partially masked by the distance between us. In general, in presentations, the interpersonal distance is at least 5 meters from the audience. If it is already difficult to detect nearby, several meters away is almost impossible.
We see every detail of what we do, but others end up with the bigger picture. The external correlate they have is less than half of what we perceive. In fact, the most useful thing we can do with nerves is to “encapsulate” them, that is, to let them be, since we have the capacity to think and speak even in their presence. , which brings us to the second. .
Error in direct manipulation of states
The most common mistake when we perceive that we are nervous is to try to reduce our stress by telling us “calm down, don’t be nervous”. But our minds work under the mandate of a paradoxical intention. In other words, that is to say just tell us “try not to think on your nerves”, “try to calm down” to make the opposite happen.
So, the most effective strategy for not getting nervous or increasing our nerves is not to try to convince ourselves that we shouldn’t get nervous, but accept and tolerate the symptoms of our agitation let them stay so they can leave sooner.
We tend to perceive the elements around us in their entirety, rather than interpreting the details separately.
Hence, mistakes made during presentation (which represent details in a whole) and words not found at any given time, they go unnoticed by the public, As well as the number of stairs to climb to access the room or the sheets contained in the paintings that adorn the auditorium. Which brings us to the next point.
As if it was a salad of letters, our exhibition works like reading a text: what appears underlined or in bold will attract more attention only words in simple format.
Therefore, if we do not emphasize our misunderstandings (following the analogy: if we do not “emphasize” them), neither will others in their “reading of the exhibit”. As with nerves, accepting and tolerating failures reduces the likelihood of repeating them, enhances our safety, and redirects public attention to other aspects.
One last tip to get rid of our nerves
If you want to feel more secure and avoid the fear of public speaking, one last suggestion.
Look at the eyebrows: eye contact is essential to generate a feeling of security and confidence in our interlocutors. However, in assessment situations it can be a distractor or intimidating element that reduces focus and increases nervousness. Therefore, if we look into the eyebrows of our reviewers, they will believe that we are looking them in the eye and we maintain a neutral point of fixation devoid of unwanted emotional reactions.