Nervousness is normal
During your studies you will experience occasions where you will have to stand in front of a large audience and speak. Some of your student colleagues will positively enjoy the attention, but the majority of people experience some degree of nervousness in such situations. In general, it is a question of training and you will come to see that the more you practise the easier it becomes. You can learn how to live with and manage your nervousness – you can push it to the background so you can concentrate on the contents of your presentation.
When angst takes over
For some people, angst and fear can be overwhelming and they stay away from meetings, avoid making presentations or expressing themselves in general.
The fear is often associated with specific ways of thinking about or perceiving oneself. For example:
- I am not good enough
- I am afraid to let others see just how unsure/stupid/nervous I really am
- I will not give others the chance to criticise me because I am sure it will be negative
- Anything I have to say is of no interest to others
- I completely panic, do stupid things and burn my bridges so that I can never attend my course again
- If I talk as fast as possible with no pauses and hardly even stopping to breathe, then it will quickly be over with. So people will have hardly noticed that I have opened my mouth.
A vicious circle
Fear can amplify your shyness and make you convince yourself that to say anything is “dangerous”. Because of this fear you never get to experience the stimulating and affirmative rewards of self-expression. If fear is holding you back then a way to conquer this fear is to understand its nature.
What you can do
The first step to being able to express yourself is to understand what is holding you back. For example:
- Do you lack self-confidence in general?
- Does the problem happen when you have to address a large audience?
- Have there been too few sympathetic listeners in your life?
- Have you had bad experiences in situations where you had something important to say?
- Have you been bullied or experienced situations where others are out to get you?
Knowing the reasons for your shyness is not always enough to solve the problem. You also need help to break the vicious circle, and in that respect you can practise and strengthen your skills.
The next step is to practise. Jump in even if it doesn’t feel very comfortable. If you cannot break the vicious circle then you should seek professional help, e.g. visit Student Counselling.
Brochure: Perfectionism – there are alternatives to “all or nothing”.