Public speaking for people who suffer from panic attacks or general anxiety often becomes a major source of worry, possibly weeks or even months before the speaking event is to occur.
These speaking engagements don’t necessarily have to be the traditional “on a podium” events; they can be as simple as an office meeting where the individual is expected to express an opinion or give verbal feedback. In this case, the fear centers on having a panic attack while speaking. The individuals fear being incapacitated by the anxiety and hence unable to complete what they’re saying. They imagine fleeing the spotlight and having to make all kinds of excuses later for their undignified departure -out the office window .
The thinking behind agoraphobia usually follows the line that was a panic attack to occur, who would look after the person, how would he or she get the assistance and reassurance they needed? The vulnerability grows from the feeling that once victims of agoraphobia are caught in the anxiety, they are suddenly unable to look after themselves and are therefore at the mercy of the place they find themselves in and the strangers around them. In its extreme form, agoraphobia and panic attacks can lead to a situation where people become housebound for numerous years. Please note, that this is by no means a hopeless situation, and I always need to reinforce the fact that something only becomes hopeless once the person believes that to be the case.
This differs slightly from the majority of people who fear public speaking. With others, their fear tends to revolve around going blank while speaking or feeling uncomfortable under the spotlight of their peers. The jitters or nerves are, of course, a problem for this group as well-but they’re unfamiliar with that debilitating threat, the panic attack because they most likely haven’t experienced one before.
So how should a person with an anxiety issue tackle public speaking?
Stage 1 is accepting that all of these bizarre and, quite frankly, unnerving sensations aren’t going to go away overnight. You’re not even going to concern yourself with getting rid of them for your next talk. When they arrive during a speech or meeting, you’re going to approach them in a new manner.
We need to build your confidence back to where it used to be before any of these sensations ever occurred. This time, you’ll approach it in a unique, empowering manner, allowing you to feel your confidence again. Some say that most of the top speakers are riddled with anxiety before an event, but they somehow use this nervousness to enhance their speech.
The average healthy person can experience an extreme array of anxiety and very uncomfortable sensations while giving a speech and is in no danger of ever losing control, or even appearing slightly anxious to the audience. No matter how tough it gets, you’ll always finish your piece-even if, at the outset, it feels very uncomfortable to go on.