Do your heart palpitations increase when you unmute yourself on zoom calls? Do you hyperventilate when asked to start speaking? Are you a self-diagnosed introvert wondering if you can make it to a premier b-school? With such debilitating factors, how can one put their best foot forward? These questions plagued me a few months back and still do, for the most part. There is no cut and dry solution to the fear of public speaking. However, let me share some coping mechanics and tips that I developed.
1. You will mostly have access to a sheet of paper to jot down thoughts before embarking on any group discussion. Writing the words "Relax" and "Breathe" on a corner can go a long way! It may sound inconsequential but makes a huge difference. The next part is to follow these words. Breathe, inhale...exhale...inhale...exhale. Remember, you don't have to be the first to speak. The purpose of a group discussion is to make a meaningful contribution, not an extraneous one
2. When your nerves get to you, you may tend to speak quickly. You may notice this in your day to day interactions, especially toward the end of sentences. This is just the brain's way of wanting to get done with it. Your panic signals the brain to finish talking faster. It serves absolutely no purpose. Communication is the exchange of ideas, and for that, your words have to be understood and appreciated. Slow down. Practice by timing yourself if needed. Be clear and lucid.
3. The third point may sound controversial. It's a personal motto for me based on my father's suggestion. You are equipped with insights, intelligence, and knowledge.
"Speak without Restraint"
It may be open to misinterpretation. It does not encourage in any shape or form, hurting others' sentiments or causing outrage. What it means, in essence, is to stop limiting yourself. Let your ideas out and let them breathe.
"We're almost there, but nowhere near it. All that matters is that we're going." - Gilmore Girls
All said and done, it is imperative to self-examine to come up with personalized coping mechanisms and work on them to relay your thoughts effectively.