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Mindfulness Techniques To Reduce Anxiety When Giving A Presentation

Updated on November 16, 2014
Conquer the fear of the microphone
Conquer the fear of the microphone | Source

The Fret Of Public Speaking

Public speaking is one of those things that are feared by many but required in certain professions and in college. Going in front of an audience whether it is for a convention or a classroom project is a task not easily avoided. The first time one has to speak in public may be the first time their heart hits the ground. Remembering all the self-talk and excuses that you hope helps to get out of this intimidating assignment in the end is useless.

Not your experience but when you are in the audience why does the speaker appear so cool, calm and in control. All the while, secretly hoping that you can either look as secure as that person or that they might trip and ruin their confidence. No matter what your internal process is about them, they also have an internal process going on about themselves. No one ever stops the speaker to ask how do you do that or how can you be so confident? But surely how you see them is not how they see themselves.

Getting in touch with reality lends the kindness one needs when you’re standing in front of a crowd hoping that you dazzle them off their feet. What that means is your perception of the speaker and their self-perception may not be similar. As a result you too can mask your anxiety when public speaking and eventually with work and awareness that anxiety will diminish.

How do you find the internal strength to be that confident speaker and pass the torch to the next anxious victim? Like said previously it takes coming to terms with reality, gaining awareness and practice.

Mindfulness To The Rescue

Mindfulness is basically another term to describe awareness. A therapeutic technique that recently has been gaining a great deal of attention and recognition. These techniques have shown significant change in reference to experienced mental health symptoms. Such as depression, anxiety and PTSD – individuals have responded well to increased awareness.

Use your mind
Use your mind | Source

Why Use Mindfulness

To be mindful is to be aware. Many times when speaking in public you lose track of your intentions for the presentation and get lost in the anxiety. Well awareness is one way to avoid giving into the anxiety and accompanied negative self-talk.

It is easy to get wrapped up into the damaging self-talk and the fear of falling on your face or something even worse. But through mindfulness practices you can get out of the dysfunction in your head and focus on physical symptoms. Being anxious when speaking is natural but being aware of how the anxiety affects your body will draw you away from the anxiety and toward a successful presentation. Saying to yourself, wow I so really nervous that my heart is beating fast and I’m beginning to sweat but then realizing that is part of your experience and possibly other peoples too. Keeping sight that the physical symptoms is not a sign that something negative will result.

5 Mindfulness Techniques To Reduce Anxiety

Using 5 key techniques you are steps away from releasing the veil of anxiety over your head. Anxiety has the power to control your life and diminish the quality of it without the tools to fight back. Many tried and true methods help to reduce and eradicate anxiety – these are a few I have found that reduce anxiety related to public speaking.


1. Awareness

Recognize the flight or fight response and accept it. Give into your body whether your experiencing sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, trembling or feeling faint. Don’t fight it but more importantly do not attach negative thoughts associated to the natural physical reactions. So what that means, do not expect something negative will happen just because your body is going through a natural effect to stress.

Remember to breathe
Remember to breathe | Source

2. Focus On Breathing

When your heart rate increases and adrenaline is flowing through your body, breathing can easily follow that rapid rhythm. It is essential to control your breathing when this occurs. Being aware of your body, breathe naturally focusing on the rise and fall of your abdomen. Concentrate on your abdomen extending with every inhalation and retracting with exhalation. By reducing the rapidness of breath will also help to regulate heart rate and flow of adrenaline. So by just maintaining a handle on your breathing other systems in the body will follow resulting in reduced anxiety.

3. Being In Control – Find Your Center

You will recognize your center with practice. Being balanced means having an awareness of your surroundings – both internal and external. Being centered and positive allows you to feel more in control and able to command the stage. Before you begin your presentation, close your eyes breathe deep and find your center. Telling yourself I will be fine, I am nervous but I know what I am doing, and anxiety is a natural response will help to find that balance.

4. Be Kind

Use positive self-talk to find kindness for others but also for yourself. As self-awareness increases the ability to remain kind will also rise. At moments when you loose your center, quickly regroup and reestablish that balance and consideration for others and self. This means using positive self-talk whenever needed an appropriate. Rather than prophesizing a bad outcome of your speaking engagement foresee a positive one. Remind yourself of the natural internal anxiety and be kind to yourself when experiencing those symptoms.

5. Be Your True Self

Finding the true self is another trait that improves with awareness. Look within while engaging with different people and recognize the external persona that goes along with those exchanges. Recognize if you are living up to a particular persona, mask or fear and work to find the commonalities and begin to act less and be more authentic. Being an imposter is consuming and tiresome, don’t waste your time. Be who you are and find acceptance with your quirkiness. Being just you while anxious is a lot easier than trying to be someone else while being anxious.

How To Use The Technique While Speaking In Public

Hopefully the above practices do not feel too overwhelming. One might ponder, how can I implement 5 things into this presentation when I am already anxious – this is going to make it worse. Well release that feeling as these take time to develop and conquer. First of all, start with awareness since the other techniques require awareness to use successfully. The others come along the way. So when practicing try each method when in public, it does not have to be perfected in that big quarterly speaking event but can be practiced during staff meetings or other smaller engagements. By practicing during smaller venues you are able to focus more on the technique and less on the size of the room or the importance of the speech.

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Public speaking is just one of those events that may continue to produce anxiety in countless people. However, you do not have to be one that it affects. Working to become aware of your internal processes and how those affect your behavior sets you on the right track to change. Self-talk is a huge contributor to either your success or demise – do not be afraid to use it. Reducing anxiety is commonly done internally hence the importance of positive self-talk.

No method is fail proof nor does every technique work the first time, but with practice and tailored methods specific for your needs relief from anxiety may be just around the corner.


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    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 3 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Oh I am glad that you can make use of this article Catherine. Good luck

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I do public speaking. I have two speeches coming up and I will try your techniques.