Vitality

Why Positive Messages Ease Anxiety During Public Speaking, According To Science

Reading positive messages may be the trick to calming your nerves before having to speak in public, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study involved over 300 undergraduate students at the University of West Australia who were assigned to give a group presentation to some of their classmates. Prior to being involved in the study, none of the participants took any public speaking courses at their university. Students who received reassuring messages had less anxiety than those who didn't, Medical Xpress reported. 

Read: Public Speaking Activates The Fight-Or-Flight Response, Making Us Panic​

child speaking Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is very common. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Before presenting, half of the participants received an information sheet that forewarned them about the anxiety they may experience, but reassured them everything would be just fine.

A few of the common negative thoughts about public speaking were addressed on the sheet, including “Everyone will see that I’m nervous,” “Everyone is judging me and my appearance during my talk,” and “I’m not going to do well in my speech because I’m nervous,” according to Medical Xpress. 

Each of the thoughts was followed by additional facts citing published research debunking those beliefs. Furthermore, the information sheet said, “We hope (and think) that this information will help you manage your feelings prior to your speech.”

Turns out, those who received the reassuring message reported lower anxiety before and during the presentation compared to those who received a message that simply outlined the assignment and wished them good luck.

Each group member spoke for 8 minutes in front of approximately 20 of their classmates.

In their paper, the authors note that public speaking anxiety treatments, like theirs, are usually only successful at reducing anxiety and not eliminating it.

Their findings demonstrate inoculation theory, which is the belief that if you are given information before you communicate, the information will make you more resistant to your held beliefs.

“One of our goals is to use this method of inoculation to help boost resilience in adolescent boys and girls,” lead research Ben Jackson said, according to Medical Xpress.

The fear of public speaking is very common. Other ways to ease your stage fright include visualizing your success and practicing calming exercises, including deep breathing.

 

See also: How Can One Control Their Nerves During Public Speaking Or Even An Exam?​

Have A Fear Of Public Speaking? 3 Ways To Lose It And Learn To Calm Down

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