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Presentation Anxiety? Try Excitement!

Categories: Business Presentations

When is the last time you got excited about a presentation you had to give?...

Not remembering one?

If you’re one of the many people who experiences performance anxiety or stage fright when it’s time to present, you might give it a try.

Here’s why.

Researchers at the Harvard Business School, looking into strategies to manage anxiety and improve performance, found that getting excited forced people to think about positives rather than their fears and was effective in reducing anxiety.

In the 2014 article “Get Excited: Reappraising Pre-Performance Anxiety as Excitement” published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, study author Alison Wood Brooks, an assistant professor of business administration, says, “…many individuals attempt to down-regulate anxiety by trying to calm down. But… suppressing or hiding anxiety is often ineffective.”

One of the study’s experiments involved 140 people who were asked to write a two-minute persuasive public speech on why they were a good work partner. In order to increase participants’ anxiety, their speeches were videotaped, and they were told that their performances would later be judged by a committee of their peers. The setup worked. Participants reported increased anxiety levels.

Each participant was advised to say aloud either “I am excited” or “I am calm” before delivering their speeches. Here is the fascinating part: study results showed that participants who said “I am excited” had the following benefits:

  • Were able to speak longer
  • Gave more compelling and effective speeches
  • Appeared more relaxed

In another article, “Predictable Fear” published in Psychology Today, Alex Korb, Ph.D. asserts, “There is very little physiological difference between fear and excitement. So if you’re scared, but nothing bad actually happens to you… then it’s very easy to shift that fear into excitement…”

Fear turned into excitement can even help you bring more energy and passion to your presentation! So, next time you are nervous about giving a presentation, try getting excited instead – and tell us how it goes!

Of course, giving a great presentation involves more than just reducing our anxiety. For more information on how to design and deliver great presentation, take a look at our blogs on How to Create a Presentation: The 2020 Definitive Guide and How to Improve Presentation Skills: Your Delivery is the Key.

To learn about BRODY’s Presentation Skills training and coaching offerings, visit our website or contact us.

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