The number of people taking anxiety medication around the world is bigger than ever. The prescriptions increased a lot in the late years, and it has an impact on your whole life.
Have you ever consider what impact it may have on your presentations?
Anxiety in Numbers
Anxiety disorders are, currently, the most common mental health problem in the USA. It is estimated that around 18% of the population suffers from some sort of anxiety disorder. According to numerous studies, up to 33.7% of the population will experience some kind of anxiety disorder during their lifetime.
8.3% of the total US population takes prescribed anxiety drugs. They act as a crutch. They help at the moment, yet, evidence indicates that long-term, they will keep you in the cycle of anxiety.
How can anxiety medication affect your public speaking?
Anxiety medication can have a series of side effects that affect multiple areas of your life. Public speaking demands extra attention and focus, your senses must be sharp, and you should be in top form. This is not your reality under the effect of anxiety pills.
If you are taking medications long-term, consult with your doctor before making any changes. It is best not to start a new treatment in the days before an important presentation.
In case of moderate anxiety, there is some medication you only take in stressful moments. I’ll focus on this later case in the post. Giving a talk is a stressful moment, and it’s only normal that you look for some relief. Yet, an anxiety pill, instead of helping you, can do the opposite.
Side Effects of Anxiety Medication can ruin your speech
The most common drugs for emergency situations are Benzodiazepines. They quickly reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as tense muscles or a racing heart. Within a few minutes, you feel relaxed.
They are perfect for you to take before entering a plane if you are afraid of flying. Concerning public speaking, an anxiety pill might give you some trouble.
- Blurry vision and dizziness – You can’t see properly; the room seems to spin. How can you focus on your talk?
- Drowsiness or fatigue – Giving a speech or presentation is quite demanding in terms of energy. Under the effect of anxiety medications, you can feel extreme tiredness and even shortness of breath.
- Dry mouth – This is one of the biggest problems for speakers. Why induce it? Besides, anxiety medication can also cause slurred speech, which is terrible for your credibility and alienate the audience.
- Feeling agitated or restless – You need to feel energized, but also focused. You can’t afford to be unable to stop in the same place for more than a minute. This agitation can also translate in tremors or sweating more than usual. If nothing else, it would make you extremely uncomfortable.
- Headaches and nausea – Your head aches, you’re stomach is upset, and you have 100 people in front of you waiting for the speech of a decade. What can go wrong, right?
- Sleeping problems – Resting before a speech is vital for its success. You’ll not be at 100% if you couldn’t have at least 6 hours of sleep the night before.
- Loss of memory or concentration – Forgetting what you were going to say. It is a nightmare for any speaker. With anxiety medication, it can become true. Then, join that, problems with balance and coordination…
Alternatives to Medication
Taking anxiety medication before a speech clearly has some major drawbacks, but you still need to calm yourself down. What can you do? The human mind is attached to rituals. They give us the sensation of control and feeling in control calm us down. Find a ritual for you to perform before each speech, and you’ll feel calmer, more in control of the situation.
The days before your presentation, make sure that you ARE in control by training to exhaustion. Train every movement, word. Try different approaches and get ready for all possible questions that come to your mind. Make sure you know your presentation as the palm of your hand.
Are you in Control?
Anxiety is disabling, and you need relief. The medication seems the best and fastest option to have it. Should you take it?
Anxiety is about control. Find alternative ways to control the situation, instead of possibly embarrassing yourself.
As soon as you know, you’re going to give a presentation, as well as the topic you’ll talk about, start the preparation process. Train, train, and train. Train with a Virtual audience, in from of family and friends, perhaps even your dog. Find creative ways to test your speech.
Right before the speech, go through your ritual, and this will make you feel confident and in control. You’ll feel your anxiety-reducing almost immediately.