Life is 10% what you experience and 90% how you respond to it. ― Dorothy M. Neddermeyer
Approaching my start day, I wonder a lot whether the butterfly feelings I have when I think about the year ahead of me are a good thing or not. My mother always says to me “it’s good to have a healthy amount of anxiousness in order to keep you focused and motivated”. After years in school of struggling with presentations and public speaking, I’m proud to say I’ve come a long way, but there is always more that can be done. What I will say is that there are certainly things you can do to help yourself:
- Prepare and practice – Especially for public speaking this is essential, going into something having little or no idea what you’re going to say doesn’t work, even for experts. Rehearsing and going over what you will say will not only ease your nerves but also make your speaking sound much more natural. Ask someone to listen to your speech, they may pick up on things that you hadn’t noticed yourself.
- Push yourself – Much of my confidence in public speaking comes from pushing myself. Even if it’s putting my hand up in a lecture or approaching someone at an event, every little push helps grow that confidence that you are good at what you’re doing. By volunteering myself at University I’ve had ample opportunity to do things I wouldn’t normally and this has massively helped me in understanding that confidence is a mind-set that you need to nurture and develop.
- Accept the anxiety – This sounds very simple but is important, if you feel nervous, acknowledge it. The worst thing you can do is pretend the nerves aren’t there and push them away. In admitting that you’re feeling like this you take control and accept your emotions. Having accepted it, ask yourself, why am I feeling this way? What can I do to make myself more prepared? Who can I speak to about it? Whatever you discover, pushing your emotions away is never sensible.
N.B. I don’t pretend to be an expert on anxiety disorders, if you do find yourself having severe anxiety don’t hesitate to talk to someone, a problem shared is a problem halved.