How to Manage Panic Attacks in Presentations

Managing panic attacks in presentations instead of letting your fear take control over you.

In today’s blog, we will be discovering ways to manage this inner devil.

Amy looked through her notes for the final time before the event started. “It all seems good. I should not fine.”. “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am Amy from ABC Company. And it is my pleasure to be your host for this afternoon.”… then a long silence….. Amy started to perspire, and her intestine started to twist, and she felt like vomiting.”

Yes, Amy just suffered a panic attack.  

“I thought I am well-prepared. But why am I still having a panic attack”.

Believe most of us who have attempted to speak at events had such an experience. Are we alone? Absolutely not! Even Hollywood and pop celebrities, which perform numerous times, have experienced it.  

Source: Psych Hub Education

What causes this anxiety and panic attack during speeches, and how can we help ourselves eliminate such incidences from happening?

According to an article written by Medical News Today:

“Panic attacks usually occur without a trigger. Anxiety is a response to a perceived stressor or threat. Panic attacks appear suddenly, while anxiety symptoms become gradually more intense over minutes, hours, or days. Panic attacks usually subside after a few minutes, while anxiety symptoms can prevail for long periods.”

For a person with panic disorder, anxiety may trigger a panic attack. Since anxiety can lead to a panic attack, why not we tackle anxiety as a priority.

Panic Attacks — A Vicious Cycle

An anxiety attack can be a vicious cycle if we do not reverse the cycle. Below is a simple illustration of a vicious negative thought process:

Panic Attacks In Presentations
Panic Attack – A Vicious Cycle

Source: The Vicious Circle Thought Form

Under the Principle of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, when a situation triggers a negative thought, it will cause our body to react negatively, both emotionally and physically:

Negative Emotions Reactions

  • Fear, dread, panic
  • Frustration, anger, disappointment, sadness

Negative Physical Reactions

  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle Tension
  • Sweating blushing
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or stomach ache
  • Trembling voice

The two reactions will then lead to behavior to act negatively.  

Methods To Eliminate Negative Thoughts

One key method to eliminate fear and negative thoughts is “self-talk.” Practice positive self-talk to nourish our negative brain. The more you feed your brain with “good thoughts,” it will gain health over time. Here is some “self-talk” that you can use, particularly in public speaking:

  • “It is going to be OK. I have rehearsed many times.”
  • “It is alright to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes.”
  • “I will do what I can do best. The rest is secondary.”
  • “I will use this opportunity to gain experience.”
  • “I will do better each time.”
  • “If the boss sees me doing this, he might give me a promotion.” (self-motivation)
  • “I will treat them like kids, no threat at all.”
  • “I’m given this task because the boss knows that I can do it.”
  • “It is OK. The more I practice, the better for me.”
  • “I will stand out among my peers after this presentation.”

In Conclusion

Delivering a presentation doesn’t have to be a scary experience. If you fear public speaking, keep your mindset positive. Acknowledge your fear and manage it. Transform the negative energy into a winning attitude.

In my next blog, I will talk about how we can prepare ourselves to expect the unexpected. Stay tuned!

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Have you conquered your inner demon yet?

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