Terrified of public speaking? Don’t try to calm down.

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Do you get butterflies in your stomach before you have to speak in public? Do your knees feel like jelly? Do you feel like throwing up your lunch (or just have no appetite to eat at all, so there’s nothing to throw up anyway)?

You are not alone. Public speaking is one of the most common fears that people, like you and me, have. I’ve just finished reading a book called Originals – How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant, where he gives a tip on how to overcome this fear effectively.

Before I share this tip with you, try to imagine yourself getting ready to give an important speech to a large audience. Of course you’re nervous as heck. Your script is ready, you’ve memorised your lines, but you’re still freaking out.

What do you do to manage that fear? Do you take deep breaths? Walk around in circles? Tell yourself to “calm down”?

Fear is an emotion that leaves a physical impact on our bodies. Our heart pumps hard and our blood courses through our veins. It’s the same physical state as when we are excited. Trying to calm down would be difficult because our body is in the opposite physical state. It is anything but calm.

So instead, the next time you’re feeling nervous or scared before giving a speech, say to yourself, “I’m excited.” It’s easier to change your state of mind from being “fearful” to being “excited”, because your body is already in the state it would be in if you really were excited.

If you’re worried that something bad might happen, there’s also a chance that something amazing could happen, too. Focus your energy on that amazing thing that could happen. Feel excited for that.

Here’s another bonus. People enjoy listening to speakers who are enthusiastic and passionate about the topic they’re talking about. So when you’re genuinely pumped up, it’ll shine through your speech.

I hope you try out this tip the next time you have to speak to an audience. Tell us what you think about this tip in the comments section below! We love hearing from you.

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Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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