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How to not get a red face when public speaking
May 14, 2022
How to not get a red face while public speaking is a great question. Public speaking is already something that a lot of people are nervous about. If you think everyone in the audience can tell how nervous you are, that only makes it worse. And a red face is something that will definitely tell people you’re nervous, right?
Well, maybe. People certainly associate blushing with being nervous or embarrassed, but those people don’t understand that there can be many different causes of blushing and not all of them are related to being nervous.
We’ll teach you how to not get a red face when public speaking, but first we need to talk about why your face turns red.
What Is Blushing?
Blushing happens when your face gets flushed with oxygen-rich blood. Basically, the blood vessels in your face widen, allowing for increased blood flow. It’s part of your body’s natural fight or flight response. When you experience anxiety, and particularly some kind of emotional stress, your body automatically triggers this response.
The reason that emotional or social stress specifically triggers blushing is that blushing is a strong social signal. Scientists think that blushing evolved as a physical response to diffuse conflict. When you blush, you’re signaling that you mean no harm. So, blushing serves an important social function. However, social factors are not the only things which can give you a red face.
There are many different things that can turn your face red. Learning what these are helps you to know how to not get a red face when public speaking. Hot food or drink can raise your body temperature, which will turn your face red. Spicy foods do the same thing- they trigger a widening of blood vessels and an increase in heart rate, which turns your face red.
A red face can also be caused by a fever. As your body temperature rises your blood vessels widen to allow more of your blood to flow closer to your skin. That helps you to lose your body heat more quickly and keeps your fever from getting too hot.
Other things like exercise, the temperature of the room, and certain medical conditions can also give you a red face. It’s a safe bet, though, that if you’re wondering how to not get a red face when public speaking, what you’re dealing with is just garden-variety blushing.
Still, it’s good to be aware of these other things which can turn your face red. That way you can do everything possible to prevent a red face when public speaking.
How To Not Get A Red Face When Public Speaking
Now that you know why your face is turning red, let’s look at how you can get it back to a normal color. First we’ll show you some ways how to not get a red face while public speaking right now, and then we’ll talk about how to prevent it in the future.
Here are our top tips for dealing with a red face when public speaking.
Take A Deep Breath
The fight or flight response does more than just turn your face red. It also increases your heart rate and triggers short, shallow breaths. These physiological responses are all connected. That means each one affects all the others. What’s more, they’re all caused by fear or anxiety. So, you can stop them all by calming yourself down. That’s easier said than done, of course. If you’re afraid, how are you supposed to calm yourself down?
Here’s the thing- fear and anxiety are connected to those physical responses, too. It’s not just that they cause the increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and red face. It’s that an increased heart rate and rapid breath can cause you to be afraid and anxious. Don’t believe us? Drink a bunch of caffeine, which raises your heart rate, and see what happens. As your heart rate goes up your breaths get faster and shallower, right? On days when you drink more coffee than usual, you’re also probably more anxious. That’s not a coincidence. All that coffee is triggering your fight or flight response by raising your heart rate.
These things are all connected- control just one of them and you can affect all the others. The easiest one to control is your breathing. When you feel yourself getting anxious or nervous, start taking slow, deep breaths. Count to 5 (or even 10) while you breathe in, and then again while you breathe out. Repeat this until you feel your heart rate slowing down.
As you do it, you’ll notice your face losing its red color. You’ll be able to feel it- a red face feels warm, and as your face turns back to normal you’ll notice it cooling off. If you commonly get nervous when public speaking, it’s a good idea to practice breathing like this beforehand each time. That way you’ll get in the habit of reducing your red face before you even set foot on stage.
Remember, when you’re hot, your face turns red. Now, if you’re nervous and hot, imagine how much worse it’s going to be. One simple way to not get a red face when public speaking is to cool off. If you’re wearing a jacket or sweater, take it off. It’s better to be uncomfortably cold in this scenario than to be warm.
If you’re in a warm room, try moving someplace cooler. You’ll just have to deal with it if the room you’re speaking in is too warm, but you don’t have to wait in a place that’s warmer than you’d like. If you’re driving to the place where you’re speaking, you might consider cranking up the A/C as cold as it will go.
Remember when we talked about the connections between all of the physical and mental parts of the fight or flight response? You’d be surprised at just how much of your unconscious physical reactions you can manipulate with conscious behavior. As you’re learning how to not get a red face when public speaking, it helps to remember that a red face is, in a primal sense, a response to emotional stress, not physical stress.
So, one way to reduce or get rid of a red face is to get rid of the emotional stress. Or, at least, to make your body think you’ve gotten rid of the emotional stress. You can do this by smiling. It sounds crazy but it works.
In fact, there’s research that shows that people who perform stressful tasks while smiling have lower heart rates than people performing the same task without smiling. And it’s not the case that those people were just naturally happier, either. The researchers required them to smile while performing the tasks- so it was not at all a genuine smile.
In other words, people were fake smiling while doing something stressful, and it lowered their heart rate. Apparently, smiling works a lot like taking deep breaths. Just by making yourself smile you can lower your heart rate, reduce your stress, and turn your red face back to normal.
Just Accept It
One of the worst parts of any stressful situation is that when you know you’re stressed, you make it worse. You dwell on the stress, and you get more stressed. When you know that you have a red face when public speaking, you get more stressed about it, which increases your heart red and probably makes your face even more red.
What if you just accepted the red face, and moved on? When most people start to blush, their face actually isn’t nearly as red as they’re worried it is. But then they start to worry about it. And they get more stressed. Their hearts beat faster. Their breaths become faster and shallower. And their face gets more and more red.
If you just accept the red face and don’t dwell on it, there’s a good chance no one else will even notice that you blushed. That’s because you’ll start to calm down before your face gets noticeably red.
If you wear makeup, you actually have an unfair advantage here. You can very easily mask a red face when public speaking without having to worry about mastering some of these other tricks. Just don’t wear red tinted makeup, which would only accentuate any blushing.
Instead, wear green tinted makeup if you know you’re going to be public speaking. The green will cancel out the red, and no one will even notice that your face is red.
Good hydration can be key to how to not get a red face when public speaking. It’s especially helpful to drink cold or cool water before and during public speaking. Not only does this help prevent your throat from getting scratchy, it helps lower your body temperature.
Cool water keeps your body temp from rising too high, which can keep your face from turning red. Even if you’re feeling anxious, drinking the cool water will lower your body temp, and that triggers your body to redirect blood flow away from your skin to help conserve body heat.
Water is the best choice for this. It will cool you down while keeping you hydrated. It keeps your mouth and throat moist, too, which will help your voice sound smooth while you’re speaking. You should definitely avoid alcohol, because drinking alcohol will cause your face to turn red. Alcohol both thins your blood and widens your blood vessels, which causes increased blood flow and turns your face red. If you’re already prone to getting a red face when public speaking, drinking alcohol before you do it is going to make things worse.
Long Term Solutions For How To Not Get A Red Face While Public Speaking
So far, we’ve covered ways to get your red face to turn back to normal, and to stop it from turning red when you feel a blush coming on. But these are only quick fixes, and it can be frustrating to have to deal with a red face every time you’re public speaking. If this is a severe problem for you, there are some things you can do to fix the problem long-term.
Do More Public Speaking
It seems counter intuitive, but if your red face is being triggered by a fear of public speaking, one way to fix the problem is to do even more public speaking. That’s because the more public speaking you do, the less nervous you’ll be. You’ll get used to it, and you’ll get better at it. You’ll become a lot more comfortable as a speaker. As a result, you won’t get so nervous, and your face won’t turn red each time.
Seriously- for most of you, this is one of the best pieces of advice we can give. Steer into the skid and start doing even more public speaking. It won’t take long before you realize you’re no longer getting nervous about it each time, and your face isn’t turning red anymore, either.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Sometimes, practice just isn’t enough. Perhaps your fear of public speaking is a true phobia, in which case no amount of practice is going to help you overcome it. Or maybe the problem isn’t the public speaking so much as the red face. If you can’t stop thinking about how red your face is, that will feed your anxiety and trigger your face to turn an even deeper shade of red.
If that’s you, you might want to consider cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to address your patterns of thought. You’ll identify harmful ways of thinking and learn to think in a different, more healthy way. This is an extremely effective and proven method of dealing with destructive behaviors and phobias. If you’re really having trouble figuring out how to not get a red face when public speaking, this might be the best thing you can do.
While there’s no such thing as a medication that can treat a red face, there are plenty of medications that can treat the underlying causes of your red face. If anxiety is regularly causing you to blush, you can talk to your doctor about a prescription for anxiety medication.
These medications can help you to regulate your emotions better, and the benefits go far beyond just preventing a red face when public speaking. If you’re struggling with anxiety, it affects every single area of your life, and taking the right medication can improve your quality of life immensely.
If you aren’t anxious or nervous about public speaking, but your face is still turning red, you might need to look into other possible causes for your red face. Medications can cause your face to turn red. Steroids, niacin, and vasodilators can all cause your face to turn red, and if you’re taking any of these medications you can time your dose to avoid having a red face when you’re public speaking.
There are also medical causes of a red face that have nothing to do with anxiety. Eczema, rosacea, and allergies can all turn your face red. If you’re a woman, menopause can also cause a red face.
Now that you know how to not get a red face when public speaking, hopefully you’ll find that public speaking is something you enjoy a lot more. There are lots of simple ways to reduce a red face when public speaking. Follow our tips in this article and you’ll find that your face returns to normal in no time.