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Can An Upper-Level Manager’s Anxiety State Affect Their Speech?

Can An Upper-Level Manager’s Anxiety State Affect Their Speech?

Have you ever prepared a speech, just to feel out of place, nervous, and even “blank” when it comes time to present? Even the most prominent of leaders can feel nervous before giving a major speech or speaking in front of their company. Many industry leaders in technical fields are able to solve the most complex problems, but find it difficult to form a coherent presentation that others will readily be able to comprehend. Stress can certainly trigger problems in speaking, which can further exacerbate symptoms of anxiety. As a CEO, executive, or upper-level manager, it’s important that you take the time to move past your anxiety, whether it’s strictly related to public speaking or more generalized (which could certainly be a sign of a mental illness).

A 2014 study published in the journal Psychophysiology sought to explore the effects of stress reactivity to lower linguistic complexity. A total of 136 participants were involved and were paired according to same sex. From there, individuals were asked to write out an emotional event that caused great suffering, and then to discuss this event with their partner. Several tests were run, including those related to emotional stress reactivity, state emotional stress, heart rate, and linguistic cognitive complexity (the higher the rating, the more “jumbled”, “disorganized”, and “difficult to follow along” a person’s speech was). Researchers ultimately found that the greater our stress responsivity (both emotional and physiological) and chronic stress, the greater the variation we will see with linguistic complexity (in other words, how we speak when under stress!).

Occasional anxiety is normal, but can become unhealthy over time if a person begins avoiding daily activities or even opportunities that could enhance their life because they are anxious. If you struggle strictly with speaking, consider trying these few tips:

  • Exercise that morning so that you can prepare your cells, structures, and pathways in your brain to handle the stress in healthier ways
  • Memorize the first few lines of your speech, so that you have no trouble getting started
  • Consider your presentation as a dialogue rather than a monologue, so that you can make it more personal

If you haven’t already, speak with someone from a professional treatment center to learn more about programs to best suit your needs. Optimal recovery is possible, and you are not alone in your pursuit for happiness, health, and wellbeing.

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