Does Rehearsing really ward off speaking anxiety?

Do you think rehearsing a speech over and over or scripting every word will help you ward off anxiety and look more confident?

I used to believe rehearsing was the key to success.

In Toastmasters I scripted every speech. I thought if I got the words right and delivered them flawlessly, I’d eventually find my way to confident speaking.

Spending hours and hours rehearsing a short 5-minute speech!

I taped myself on a cassette recorder (this was in the nineties!). I played the tape over and over in the car as I drove to and from work.

Standing in front of a mirror to rehearse all the gestures I planned to use… I stamped my foot, I shook my fist and I waved my hands.

Can you relate to this kind of extreme preparation?

Rehearsing may create more anxiety

If you are someone who scripts and rehearses every word of your speech, you may be creating more speaking anxiety for yourself.

Why?

Because this kind of preparation suggests you are afraid.

The reason most people put so much energy into rehearsing is because they are afraid to fail… and failure can have dire consequences.

Results for failure may be emotional such as shame and humiliation. Your self-esteem suffers. Or the result may be practical such as a loss of a job promotion or even loss of your job. And now your pocketbook suffers!

Failure is something most of us want to avoid.

But…

… what if I say to those of you who find yourself doing what I used to do (rehearsing until I was blue in the face) …

… take a look at your fear.

What are you really afraid of?

Ask yourself, “what am I really afraid of?”

I suggest you stop putting your precious energy into rehearsing so much.

Over-rehearsing is like over-baking a cake. Your speech may fall flat, be too dry, or you’ll burn up.

I’m not saying don’t write out what you want to say and I’m not saying don’t practice.

What I am saying is, instead of spending so much time on practicing, take another look at what is really going on inside of you.

Learn to face this fear that has you ramped up. Look at another way to calm yourself as you approach the moment where you must stand and deliver your speech.

What is this other way that will improve your presentation better than over-rehearsing?

Here’s a better way to prepare for your presentation

I say it is better to face these fears and challenge the thoughts stuck in your head.

How do you challenge each of the potential negative thoughts about your performance?

Ok, all you have to do is this… ask yourself a series of “what if’s”…

What if…

…my performance sucks?

…the nerves take over?

…everyone looks bored?

The underlying fear, this anxiety, is what you need to tame before you can finally be free to deliver your message with absolute confidence.

Underlying Fear

Melissa Maher, a Mindfulness Coach, gives these words of wisdom… “fully facing what we most fear is the only thing that can free us from our fear.”

If you suffer from stage fright, over-rehearsing is a dangerous way to go.

It is dangerous because you haven’t really reached into the real source of your fear and handled it.

The words and the memorization and the rehearsal are all carried on top of your underlying anxiety!

So what can you do about this underlying anxiety?

… Spend your time in front of the mirror not rehearsing the gestures, but looking at your fear!

The speech may not be delivered flawlessly, but you can bet that you will be more connected and more engaged. People remember the experience more than the words!

So next time you approach preparing to deliver a speech, first do some self-examination, some self-reflection and ask yourself what is the scariest part.

Break the fears down and ask yourself what else can you do to calm your nerves.

If you have a talk coming up and you start to feel yourself getting anxiety, I’d love to help you eliminate your jitters for good schedule a free, 30 minute call to discover how to find your voice and speak without fear.

On the call, I’ll help you find and identify your biggest fear… and then lay out a plan to overcome it.

Doreen Hamilton

About Doreen Hamilton

Doreen Hamilton, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychologist with over thirty years of experience, the Training Director of Speaking Circles® International, and the founder of Essential Speaking. She specializes in the treatment of anxiety caused by the fear of speaking. In addition to her authentic communication workshops and private coaching, she leads Speaking Circles in Berkeley, CA, along with teleconferences, e-courses and seminars throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.