Anxiety about performing a speech is a fear that crosses all barriers—language and otherwise. But with a few simple tips, public speaking can become less stressful for anyone paralyzed by the fear of standing in front of a crowd.
Some people are naturally less comfortable standing in front of a group of people and speaking. This is an example of stage anxiety, where a person will become anxious due to a specific event or scenario. Others experience trait anxiety, which means they are inherently anxious people. Many ESL Learners fear speaking in front of others due to an apparent lack of confidence in relaying their thoughts or communicating clearly.
Realize, however, that you are not alone. Many, many people—both native and nonnative English speakers—face crippling anxiety over public speaking. These fears can be overcome, though, and a few simple tips can help make the experience infinitely more comfortable. Here’s how ESL Learners can prepare for public speaking through overcoming state anxiety:
1. Budget your time to accommodate planning and practicing. If you are preparing a speech or presentation, it is imperative that you are confident with what you will be saying or presenting. Confidence can be achieved through sufficiently practicing your material and becoming familiar with it. You may also want to work in small groups with other ESL Learners prior to your presentation to help yourself and each other become more comfortable.
2. Practice breathing. You already know that breathing is essential to speaking if you’ve engaged in a voice training class. Breathing can also be very useful in reducing stress. Attempt to relax yourself by relieving tension in your shoulders and breathing through your nose. Hold your breath, tighten your muscles, and count slowly to five before exhaling. Try this a few times until you feel calmer.
3. Become familiar with the first minute of your speech. Because the opening part of a speech is the most stressful, confidently knowing the first minute of your presentation can help greatly in assuring success. After a solid first minute, anxiety is eased and the rest of the speech will usually be smooth sailing.
4. Maintain a good outlook. Be confident in your abilities and think of yourself as a fluent English speaker. Also remember that your listeners want you to do well and that you are all in this together.
5. Try some exercises. Warm up your mouth by saying “wah-wah-wah” over and over again. This will help relieve tension in your face. Try this with other learners as well. You may also want to remedy any dry mouth you may have by drinking a glass of water.
6. Inhale before speaking. If you are out of breath, your stress can increase, and that can create a bad outcome for your presentation. Take a deep breath, let it out, and then proceed with speaking.
7. Practice as much as possible. Try practicing with your friends, your family, or your instructor, even your accent reduction teacher or coach. The more you practice, the more confident you will become and the better you will be.
Practice makes perfect and with a bit of effort, speaking publicly can be a breeze. Just remember to have confidence in yourself and your abilities. If these tips were helpful to you, you may also want to consider other Internet resources and learn to speak English fluently with online classes.