Public speaking is a common source of anxiety, even for training professionals. The next time anxiety strikes, trying to stay calm might be a mistake. Instead, get excited.

Researchers from the Harvard Business School conducted a public speaking experiment with 140 college students. Before the speech, half the students were instructed to say “I am calm” while the other half affirmed “I am excited.”

The speeches were then recorded on video and evaluated by three independent raters. Those who’d stated “I am excited” scored better on every performance measure, including confidence and persuasiveness.

According to the study, prompting the subjects to reinterpret their anxiety as excitement improved performance.

The positive results were replicated under several conditions, including a math test and a karaoke singing contest.

Source: Brooks, A.W. (2013). Get excited: Reappraising pre-performance anxiety as excitement. Journal of Experimental Psychology. doi: 10.1037/a0035325.

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