How to decrease your public speaking anxiety

Your hands get sweaty. Your throat tightens.

Your gut turns into a knot. Your head is too full and too foggy to think clearly. Your heart is racing… no, you aren’t about to step into a Nascar vehicle, or being chased by a large black bear. You are preppin’ to step on stage.

I have spoken in front of a room full of people hundreds of times. Hundreds. I am very familiar with this feeling.

For a long time, that’s exactly how I would describe my physical experience before speaking. Things have gotten better for me, after hundreds of presentations, but I still remember… and I still get hints of that anxiety when the stakes are high.

I still totally get it.

The cool part is, I am also powerfully aware how immense the public speaking opportunity is. I have felt the energy in the room shift in meaningful, positive ways because I got on that stage. I have heard the inspired stories of those who took extraordinary action because they were inspired by my speech. Those stories, that energy shift, my own little way of changing the world via the stage is why I am so compelled to get up there. I don’t engage in public speaking because I want the fame or notoriety.

I get on stage because it is a powerful medium for change.

In order to keep getting up on those stages, in spite of all of that anxiety, I had to gather some power tools for dealing with all of that public speaking anxiety. That’s what this post is about.

I want to give you my favorite tools for decreasing public speaking anxiety.

Today, I’ll share my three very favorite speech anxiety strategies: 1. breathing, 2. positive visualization, and 3. audience connection and rapport.


You probably know that our minds are inextricably connected with our bodies. Consciously pulling in a deep belly breath – the kind that makes your belly button push outward – and then releasing all of that air and then some, slows the mind. That process of pulling in breath, distending your belly, releasing the breath deeply, automatically decreases your physical anxiety sensations. Use it anytime you are nervous. It’s amazing.

Positive Visualization

Did you know that you can actually increase your “experience” with positive public speaking events by simply imagining yourself delivering that fabulous presentation? Research has indicated that our imagination of a particular event can actually increase our effectiveness at such an event in real-life (here’s one description of such research.) This means that when you actively close your eyes and imagine yourself delivering a brilliant, amazing presentation, you are that much closer to delivering that brilliant presentation in real-life. We also know (from other smart researchers), that positive visualization significantly decreases anxiety. I often spend at least a few minutes each day I prepare for a presentation, imagining myself on stage delivering a riveting, engaging public speaking presentation – totally connected with the audience, watching their heads nod in agreement, smiling – and it makes me actually quite excited to get on stage and have that experience. Try it!

Audience Connection and Rapport

Speaking of watching the audience nod their heads, smiling… there is nothing more effective for decreasing any public speaking anxiety I might be experiencing than feeling genuinely connected with my audience. When I spend a solid amount of time thinking through what they need, what I can share that will truly make their lives better, I feel awesome getting up on stage and adding that kind of real value for them. Spending that time thinking about them, caring about their lives and needs, and then delivering my speech or training with that approach make me feel really great. It makes me forget that I am “on stage” and allows me to just dive deeply into making a difference in the world.

I have a list of great strategies for decreasing public speaking anxiety that I would be happy to share with you.

Click here to download the list: Strategies for Decreasing Public Speaking Anxiety (no opt-in required.) Let me know which are your favorites.

And please, if you have other strategies that aren’t on that list, share them in the comments or send them to me via email so I can share them with our community.

Thank you, jjjj56cp, for sharing this cool black bear photo for all to use and enjoy.

Why Your Soulful Business Needs Your Inner Peace

Bear with me while I share a little about myself and my business (it’s with you in mind, of course.)

I’ve been in business for myself for over four years. It has been one hell of a four years.

In that four years, I’ve:

  • Rebranded four times (yep, FOUR.)
  • Changed my focus at least four times
  • Revamped my website at least five times
  • Written and produced a content-rich, super useful multi-media program under a brand I changed almost immediately, rendering the lovely program unusable in its current form.
  • Produced a DVD home-study workshop based on a live workshop I facilitated again under a brand I no longer use. The whole thing, in its current form, is also unusable.
  • And, of course, plenty more… (but let’s not belabor this too much… hmph.)

Why am I telling you this? What does this have to do with you?

Well, I have a hunch you may have experienced (or be experiencing… or starting to experience) some of what I have experienced in my own journey as a soul-inspired business person.

It’s part of the plight of those of us doing the somewhat “squishy” work of changing lives with our message. There are so many ways we can approach our work in the world, so many different kinds of people we could help. And often, we want to help them all.

You start digging in and it can get really messy – very confusing. And really quite anxiety-provoking.

I spent so much of my time in my first few years searching for the “right” way to grow my business, my gut tied into a knot wondering if I was making the “right” decisions, choosing the “right” tagline, creating the “right” offer, producing the “right” program. I bought marketing programs, hired coaches with big promises and spent so many conflicted hours trying to be present with my daughters while I was totally obsessed with what “to do next” in my business.

As passion-driven business owners, we start to think that intense anxiety is “normal.”

Maybe you know what kind of anxiety I’m talking about…

This is the kind of anxiety that makes you feel stuck yet urgent, uncertain and antsy. The kind that makes you take action – any action – just to ease that inner edge, to release some of the tension.

The kind of anxiety that makes you listen too intently to what others think you should do, to forget that you are the expert on your life and your business.

The kind of anxiety that muffles your inner knowing.

And that Inner Knowing is your greatest business mentor.

You need your Inner Knowing clean, clear and carrying a megaphone.

But here’s what I’ve learned this year…

it doesn’t have to be so hard.

It’s true that it isn’t easy. There is a lot to “figure out” and trial and error are a normal part of that learning process.  But the angst – the anxiety and fear – that part doesn’t have to own the process. In fact, now I know that…

Anxiety absolutely must not drive.

What’s the antidote to this dangerous creature that may be wasting your time, money and precious life as you try to grow your soul-inspired business?

Inner Peace.

Inner Peace. Peace. Peace, inside. Ease, flow… knowing, trusting, centered faith.

When you really give yourself the grounding – the time and space – to calm your inner world, to listen deeply, and to remember that you have what you need right now to do the next thing (even if the next thing is to seek guidance or support from a great coach or program)… everything changes.

You take your power back.

You remember why you made this bold, beautiful move of stepping out on your own into your business.

You give yourself the precious thing that we are all looking for underneath all of the other things we do (business and personal)… Inner Peace.

When you let go of that unnecessary anxiety… When you let your heart, your clear mind, and your peaceful spirit guide your business, you’ll make decisions easier.

You’ll know what to do sooner (and when not to do anything yet.)

You will save time, money and precious energy.

You’ll preserve your spirit.

You’ll help more people, sooner and more powerfully.

I want so much to do what I can to help you get that inner peace you need to do your great work in the world. I created this Stuckness Cleanse program for just this purpose. It is full of my favorite, most effective de-stuckifying exercises, fed straight to your inbox every day for 10 days. It is a multi-media program, with emails, videos, mp3s and worksheets – all created to take very little time yet have profound effect on your sense of ease, peace and forward motion.

To your deep Inner Peace, dear friend…

(In case you missed it above, here’s that link to the 10-Day Stuckness Cleanse (there’s no cost, just my warm wishes for your ease and peace):

 Much peace and thanks to Tamari 09 for this peaceful, spirit-bursting image.

Peace and Presence

What if Inner Peace isn’t actually a “project”?

It just occurred to me. Maybe this Inner Peace thing is the opposite of a project. In fact, it’s feeling more and more like a
An opening.
A letting go.

As I venture through Project: Inner Peace this summer, I realize that I actually have access to Inner Peace immediately, anytime I need it. It is just there, underneath a noisy, messy layer of thinking and doing. I’m amazed at its consistency and availability.

It only takes one move, one shift in my heart and mind.
One peeling back of a layer.

The process of accessing it feels like a parting of velvet curtains, an opening… into an ease and calm that is as solid as any personal state I have ever known. More solid and certain than any level of anxiety I have ever experienced, even during my three day panic attack.

And the move that brings forth this grounded, centered peacefulness?
Presence. Pure, focused presence.

windowbranchbypreconsciousEye-300x200Try it right now. Right this instant, shift your focus from reading and analyzing this post to simply noticing something beautiful in your environment – the curve of your coffee cup and the colors that mix on its exterior (we can make anything beautiful with presence)… the quivering leaves on the branch that brushes against your window… the sound of that brushing branch in the space of the room in which you sit… Feel the bottoms of your feet on the floor and the place where your shoulders rest onto your back.
Inner Peace. It’s just there waiting.

For me, it’s still fleeting. I lose my focus regularly and quickly, but I’m learning how to bring it back when I need it.
Simple Presence.

Now you – tell me how you cultivate presence? Do you have ways you stay present, when distractions begin to pull you away?

Grateful photo credit here.