What makes presenting in front of a group so difficult?
Does your anxiety get in the way of you making a great presentation?
If so, how?
What factors have contributed to your fear of presenting?
Which of your fears are founded (e.g. forgetting something) and which are unfounded (e.g. fear of death)?
Presentation Anxiety (or presentation phobia) comes from the fear of being evaluated negatively or criticized. Those who suffer from presentation anxiety may feel humiliated and embarrassed for what they interpret as their own inadequacy. Fears can range from the real e.g. possibility of memory failure to the unreal e.g. possibility of death.
L. John Mason, founder of the Stress Education Center, states that
"The fear of making a presentation is the most common phobia that exists. It ranks with the fear of death as a traumatic experience, probably because people unconsciously fear that the attention directed at them when they are making a presentation will somehow expose them to dangers that may lead to death! This unfounded fear (in most normal situations) paralyzes millions of people and keeps them from moving ahead in their careers..."
This is an excellent website providing information about many types of anxieties.
Richard Kummins, a former president of the Daybreakers Toastmasters Club in Houston, says a number of issues may combine to cause presentation anxiety:
Many graduate students worry about the opinions and judgments of their peers and professors which is driven, to some extent, by the pressure to perform to the highest standard all the time. Add to this having to stand in the spotlight, with nowhere to hide for 20-30 minutes, and the result can be a meltdown for some students.
How does your body react to presentation anxiety?
What thoughts are behind your anxiety?
Common physical responses to high level of presentation anxiety are:
Behind these physical responses are worries or fears about oneself as a presenter. These negative thoughts often get played over and over before presentation day, reinforcing them. Reframing negative thoughts into balanced, workable thoughts is the key.
Common thoughts might include:
Describe what your body is feeling when you have a good amount of stress
What anti-anxiety strategies have you employed in the past? Which worked best?
Anything done for the first time, or even the first few times, involves some anticipation or fear. Overcoming the fear of public speaking requires training and learning in a supportive atmosphere. Self-confidence will grow with each exposure.
You need to feel some stress before your presentation. You want to be neither too calm nor too anxious. You need a bit of adrenaline, produced during the stress response, to pump you up and give you the enthusiastic approach audiences love. So, it's important to be aware of how your body feels when you are experiencing stress which helps you, e.g. clear focus, a pang of excitement, versus bodily sensations indicating negative stress, e.g. racing heart, fuzzy head, nausea. Make a list of these bodily sensations so that you can compare them if and when your body starts to show signs of unwanted/unhelpful stress.