Turn Anxiety into Excitement
One of the primary goals of my clients is to “overcome speaking anxiety.” They hope to feel calmer and relaxed while presenting. According to Olga Khazan’s piece in the Atlantic, “Can Three Words Turn Anxiety into Success?,” it is actually more effective to transform anxiety into excitement. Khazan writes,
“That’s because anxiety and excitement are both aroused emotions. In both, the heart beats faster, cortisol surges, and the body prepares for action. In other words, they’re “arousal congruent.” The only difference is that excitement is a positive emotion‚ focused on all the ways something could go well.”
In other words, not only is it easier to transition from anxious to excitement – but it is also can be more effective. Excitement propels us to get out there and give it our all – to connect with the audience and help them move from Point A to Point B. When you really know how you want to influence your audience, it is natural to feel excited to get out there and make that happen.
One of the reasons we feel anxious before speaking is because we feel there is so much at stake. Speaking anxiety can sometimes be a self-focused emotion – we worry about how we are perceived, will we mess up, etc.
Excitement on the other hand is more of an audience-focused emotion. We are excited to share our message with the audience – to help them understand something new. This shift from “us” to “them” is critical not only in reducing speaking anxiety – but in speaking more effectively.