Speaking Up Without Freaking Out | Matt Abrahams | TEDxPaloAlto

In this informative and captivating TEDx talk, Matt Abrahams offers practical solutions to handle communication anxiety and provides tools to empower all of us to confidently share our ideas and stories.

Matt Abrahams is a passionate, collaborative and innovative educator, author and coach. At Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Matt teaches popular courses in Strategic Communication and Effective Virtual Presenting. He is also Co-Founder and Principal at Bold Echo Communications Solutions, a presentation and communication skills company based in Silicon Valley.

Matt recently published the third edition of Speaking Up Without Freaking Out, a book written to help those wishing to be more confident and compelling communicators. Prior to teaching, Matt held senior leadership positions at several software companies, where he created and ran global learning and development organizations. When not teaching and coaching, Matt enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, martial arts and eating dessert.

For more information about TEDxPaloAlto please visit http://www.tedxpaloalto.com.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx



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  1. My hearting is pounding so fast every time when I’m about to talk. Even I take a deep breath and tell myself, I can do this, it does not work. When I’m talking to people in the meeting virtually, my heart is still racing fast and sometimes my voice is shaking( not sure if people can notice), then my brain can’t relax and function properly as I’m in a ralexing and normal state. I always end up saying wrong things that I was so regret later. I just can’t control my nervousness and control myself in that moment all the time. I have never seen anyone in my life that has the same level of nervousness/anxiety as I do. Even worst, I forget what I need to say because my brain is just turning blank. I hate myself so much after each time I talk. I have had nervousness for years!

  2. Please recommend what types of questions to ask? It seems very hard for me to find a suitable question to ask while just presenting my work at a conference.

  3. This is awesome and I'm so grateful this exists. However, this isn't my first time watching this or any other similar videos.. yet STILL, my anxiety controls my life. For no reason my brain completely blanks at every single public speaking interaction I've ever had in my life. Working at a restaurant, going to school, meetings.. I could prepare the most perfect speech.. memorize every word for word.. but as soon as it matters my brain shuts off

  4. His thoughts that we evolved this way contradicts the fact that he said he learned his lesson at age 14, and ever since he has wanted to help others. He didn't evolve into this, it is a learned behavior/fear etc…we pick up our fears through peer pressure, upbringing (especially if the home environment was focused around fear) and other means, but evolve into it, I don't think so. He had some great input, but I disagree on evolving into this.

  5. Anxiety Management

    Symptoms (What goes on in our bodies and minds)

    -Manage physical symptoms through a variety of actions that are opposite to the symptom. For example, gesture broadly if you're shaking, hold something cold if you're sweating, etc.

    -Manage mental symptoms by acknowledging you're anxious for good reasons and it's natural to high performance situations.

    Sources (What makes our anxiety worst)

    -Manage sources of anxiety by treating them directly by following a plan. The plan's structure is: What -> So what -> Now what.

    Example: If you're afraid of forgetting something in your speech remember what it is you're communicating (what), why that's relevant to the audience (so what) and then what is next (now what).

    -If you're anxious about being judged, redirect the audiences attention to something else while keeping them involved (video, poll, etc.)

    Style (The better approach)

    -The better way of approaching communication is to reframe it as a conversation. Put your attention on servicing your audience, use conversational language (us, you, we) and ask questions.

    Subscribe to my music channel for relaxing music 🎧.

  6. this is laughable… when you are gasping for air and all your body is in sheer pain you can't remember of going through this bullsh**, it might work for some people with mild fear or shyness, but for real anxiety this is useless

  7. 0:00 Why is it important? -> in order to share your ideas effectively and efficiently with your audience you need to be calm (and there's a lot you have to say so it's worth it)
    4:00 Where does the anxiety come from? -> it's a survival method from days long past – fighting for status, so it's basically in our DNA

    Managing physiological symptoms:
    5:35 if you are anxious, in general -> take a deep breath before you start
    5:50 if you shake -> gesture broadly
    6:00 if you perspire or blush -> hold something cold in your hand (not sure how this is practical though 😛 )

    Managing cognitive symptoms -> greet your "anxiety", accept it (it's actually just energy you can perceive it as either additional energy for your talk or anxiety)

    Managing sources (TL;DR – make your talk a structured conversation with your audience)
    7:55 (1) "I'm afraid I'm going to forget" -> have a map, a structure like e.g. "what, so what, now what" structure
    8:55 (2) We feel the audience is exercising judgment on us -> redirect attention (show a video, ask a question, etc.) (note: (2) is also solved if you exercise (3))
    9:35 (3) If it feels like a performance -> reframe it as a conversation (put your attention on your audience, use conversational language (us, you, we), ask questions)

    And remember it takes time and will to get out of the comfort zone.

  8. i have to present a project in front of my whole class that I have made in my university…….I am super nervous…….I dont know what to do…….My hands are shivering while watching this video…….I seriously need help…….

  9. if you browse any recruiting website, the most demanding skills are not "hard skills" like coding, drawing or designing. It is "soft" skills like "verbal & writing communication, presentation" that have been asked in most of the job postings.

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