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Overcoming Public Speaking Performance Anxiety for Financial Planners

Giving presentations is an unavoidable part of being a financial planner. Whether speaking to colleagues, clients or at conferences, public speaking is a frequent requirement of the job. Yet for many financial planners, speaking in front of groups causes major anxiety and fear.

public speaking for financial planners
You can't hide behind a spreadsheet when you have to do public speaking!

Knees knocking, voice trembling, mind racing - these are common symptoms of performance anxiety. Also known as glossophobia, the fear of public speaking is incredibly pervasive, with some surveys estimating 75% of people experience it. Fortunately, there are proven techniques financial planners can use to manage their anxiety and become confident, compelling speakers.

This comprehensive guide will explore how you can overcome public speaking nerves through thorough preparation, cognitive strategies and behavioural techniques. You'll discover how to transform your outlook, build your skills gradually and harness anxious energy into dynamic presentations. While discomfort is part of growth, you can persist through these feelings to become an assured, engaging speaker.

Understanding Performance Anxiety

Let's begin by defining what exactly performance anxiety is. Also known as stage fright, performance anxiety refers to excessive nervousness and tension when presenting to an audience. Physical symptoms include:

- Accelerated heart rate and breathing

- Sweating and trembling

- Dry mouth and throat

- Upset stomach

- Muscle tension

These reactions are caused by the body's fight-or-flight response, an automatic reaction to perceived danger. Public speaking triggers this because you feel exposed and fear negative judgement. The amygdala, the brain's fear centre, responds by flooding your body with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.

You're definitely not alone in your speech anxiety. Surveys show the majority of people fear public speaking more than things like heights, flying and even death! But this common phobia can significantly hinder financial planners who need strong presentation skills.

The good news is you can learn to manage anxious responses using evidence-based techniques. With preparation and practice, that overwhelming dread can become controllable excitement.

Preparedness Builds Confidence

Thorough preparation is key for building confidence and managing nerves. Know your material extensively so you won't have to rely heavily on notes or slides. Follow these tips:

- Carefully structure your presentation with a solid introduction, body and conclusion.

- Refine your content until your points flow logically. Remove anything unnecessary.

- Time and polish your delivery multiple times. Become very familiar with your pacing.

- Visualize smoothly delivering your speech from start to finish. Imagine the positive.

- Practice out loud with all equipment you'll use. Get comfortable with tools like microphones.

- Anticipate likely questions and concerns. Have answers ready to go.

- Create note cards with key phrases and data points. Don't write out everything word-for-word.

Being deeply prepared will help minimize "what if" worrying thoughts. You'll also avoid awkward pauses and fumbling by mastering your content.

Cognitive Strategies for Managing Anxiety

Anxiety often stems from unhelpful thought patterns like catastrophizing and self-criticism. Reframing your mental perspective can work wonders for managing nerves. Useful cognitive strategies include:

- Replace anxious thoughts with empowering positive self-talk. "I've got this" or "Stay calm" can self-soothe.

- Remember the audience wants you to succeed. They don't want to see you struggle. Think supportively.

- Focus externally on helping the audience vs. judging yourself. Keep attention outward.

- Concentrate on delivering this one speech; don't obsess about past or future performances.

- Use cue cards to redirect attention if needed. Pre-plan phrases to calm and refocus yourself.

- Accept anxiety as normal and expected. Don't waste energy fighting it. Just let it flow through you.

Adjusting your mindset builds confidence to engage authentically with audiences. You can reframe nerves as productive excitement about sharing your expertise.

Behavioural Techniques for Regulating Anxiety

Along with mental outlook, there are physical techniques for managing anxiety symptoms right before and during speeches:

- Take slow deep breaths to your diaphragm to lower heart rate and blood pressure.

- Use progressive muscle relaxation to identify and release tension in each body part.

- Practice mindfulness meditation to remain calm, centered and in the present moment.

- Visualize yourself speaking smoothly with confidence just beforehand. Picture the positive.

- Do vocal warm ups like humming or lip trills to get voice ready.

- Stretch lightly and shake limbs loose to discharge nervous energy.

- Stay hydrated by sipping water with lemon to avoid dry mouth.

- Avoid too much caffeine which can worsen jitters.

These exercises will get you into an optimal state for delivering your best presentation.

Gaining Experience Through Repetition

As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. The more you put yourself out there, the more your brain will see public speaking is safe and you can handle it. Follow these tips:

- Start small by speaking up at team meetings or giving brief informal presentations.

- Look for low-pressure opportunities at your workplace, like leading an orientation or training.

- Volunteer to present at local community, religious or hobby groups.

- Slowly increase the length and complexity of your speeches. Build towards your big talks.

- Reflect on each experience objectively; don't beat yourself up over imperfections.

- Let go of small mistakes and celebrate your wins. Track your progress.

As you become more seasoned, you'll learn how to recover quickly if challenges arise. Your brain will start to associate presentations with accomplishment rather than peril.

Reframing Anxiety as Excitement

Here's an intriguing way to reframe performance anxiety: recognize it as excitement! The physical symptoms are quite similar, including increased heart rate, adrenaline surge and shaky limbs.

So mentally interpret these sensations as eagerness to speak, rather than dread. Embrace the nervous energy as fuel to make your delivery more dynamic. Pretend it's opening night and you're the star!

This partnering perspective can transform fear into passionate excitement. You don't have to resist anxiety; just put a positive spin on it.

Keep Pushing Past Discomfort

Growth comes from living outside your comfort zone. While unpleasant at times, performance anxiety is a sign you're expanding your capabilities. Persist through the jitters and you'll reach the other side as a polished, compelling speaker.

Use the strategies in this guide to control anxiety symptoms and build your public speaking skills with each opportunity. Thorough preparation, mental reframes and physical relaxation will help you become an assured presenter.

If you want additional one-on-one guidance to overcome your speech fear, contact SpeakFearless at We offer personalised coaching programmes to help financial planners polish their presentation abilities and confidently convey their expertise. Take control of anxiety and unlock your public speaking potential today!


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