Overcome public speaking anxiety techniques

30 Ways to Manage Speaking Anxiety | University Counseling Service

Initial Considerations

Glossophobia – the fear of public speaking

  • It is the single most common phobia (fear)

  • Approximately 75% of people experience this

  • You are not alone in your fear

  • You cannot eliminate your fear–but you CAN manage and reduce it. 



Getting Ready 
  1. Select a topic of interest to you

  2. Prepare carefully–know your material

  3. Practice–rehearse your talk with a friend

  4. Know your audience

  5. Challenge negative thinking–make 3 x 5 cards of positive thoughts or have friends write out inspirational thoughts for you.

  6. Expect positive reactions–expect success!

  7. Know the room–if unfamiliar, visit your speaking space before you talk.

  8. Employ aerobic exercise strategies–daily aerobic exercise can cut anxiety by 50%.

  9. Eat for success–foods containing tryptophan (dairy products, turkey, salmon) and complex carbohydrates tend to calm the body. Eliminate caffeine, sweets, and empty calories.

  10. Sleep for success–know and get the number of hours of sleep you need for optimal performance. 


The Day of the Presentation 

11.   Eat several hours before the talk–not immediately before 

12.  Dress for success–your success! Dress comfortably and appropriately for the situation. Look your best

13.  Challenge negative thinking–Continue positive thinking

14.  If you need to, express your fears to a friend 

15.  Review 3 x 5 cards of inspirational thoughts

16.  Practice your talk one last time

17.  Go to the room early to ready equipment and your podium.

18.  Exercise immediately before the talk to reduce adrenalin levels. 

    • Employ anxiety reduction techniques
    • Aerobic exercise
    • Deep muscle relaxation
    • Visualization strategies
    • Deep, rhythmic breathing (4 hold 7) 

19.  Use the restroom immediately before the talk 

20. Take a glass of water to the talk 


The Presentation: A positive experience stemming from careful preparation! 

21.  Interpret anxiety symptoms as excitement

22. Use the podium to practice grounding strategies. Touch the podium to steady yourself and to remind yourself that you are safely connected to the ground which is firm and steady beneath your feet.

23. Take a security blanket with you–a complete typed version of your talk to only be used as a backup strategy.

24. Use tools to reduce audience attention on you.

    • PowerPoint presentation 
    • Video film clips
    • Handouts
    • “Show and tell” objects to pass

25.  Get out of yourself–engage the audience

26.  Look at friendly faces in your audience

27.  Use humor as needed

28.  Use the room’s physical space to your advantage–walk around as appropriate.

29.  Appropriately regulate your voice

    • Speak clearly–enunciate
    • Open your mouth–do not mumble
    • Slow down if necessary
    • Lower your voice–speak from your diaphragm
    • Project your voice–use energy when you speak
    • Use appropriate animation 
Additional Considerations 
  • Seek out public speaking opportunities to desensitize (reduce) your fear of communication apprehension.

  • Consider use of anti-anxiety medication

  • Join Toastmasters International to have a supportive and safe way to practice

    public speaking

  • Gain experience–practice makes perfect. 


Created by Kathleen H. Staley, Ph.D., for the University Counseling Service at The University of Iowa, 3223 Westlawn S, 52242-1100, 319-335-7294 


16 Tips to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

If the idea of getting up in front of a group of people — a big or small audience, online or in-person — makes you sweat, you might suffer from glossophobia, or a fear of public speaking.

Public speaking is a fantastic skill I believe most people should master, though. Whether you want to make a career out of it or just want to be able to feel comfortable speaking publicly on a personal level.

Regardless of the fears you may have right now, it is possible for you to become a successful motivational public speaker.

So how do you kick the public speaking anxiety? Learn some public speaking facts and try these tips to learn how to overcome your fear of public speaking and become a public speaking master.

Why Are People Afraid of Public Speaking?

It may help you to know that you are not alone in your fear of public speaking. Forty percent of Americans suffer from glossophobia. 

What is glossophobia really? It is an anxiety disorder — which goes beyond just being nervous or worrying about being in front of an audience.

You might feel your heart racing and find it harder to breathe. You could feel sweaty, dizzy, or nauseous. You might be shaking uncontrollably or even want to run out of the room. 

Many people learn how to overcome glossophobia by taking public speaking classes.

Understanding the power of positive thinking can also help you overcome your fear of public speaking. 

Whether you have glossophobia or are just nervous about your speech, the right tools will give you the confidence you need to achieve your public speaking goals.

16 Tips to Help You Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

As someone who’s made a career out of speaking publicly, I’ve personally tested and tried each of these tips to help me grow as a speaker. This advice has also helped many people learn how to overcome their fear of public speaking.

1. Choose a Topic You’re Passionate About

When you care about something, it becomes easier to speak on it and get others invested and passionate about what you’re talking about as well. 

So if you’re going to speak on a topic, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about.

Overcome nervous public speaking feelings by choosing a topic that:

  • Has had an inordinate impact on you
  • You want to share with others
  • You intensely feel others could benefit from knowing 
  • You can speak about it from the heart

Other people can benefit from the knowledge you have gained through your unique experiences. Combine your passions with your desire to improve others’ lives to calm your nerves and boost your confidence in front of an audience.

2. Get Organized

A big part of what causes fear of public speaking is not being prepared. 

One of the best things you can do to help you feel more prepared and confident in your speech is to stay organized.

Get your notes together and outline the main points of your speech. Plan how you are going to start your speech to grab the attention of your audience within the first 30 seconds.

Consider color-coding certain parts of your speech so they are easy to refer to.

If you plan to use visual aids, get them together and practice using them. Know where you will place them during your speech.

Make sure your technology is in working order as well. Be familiar with your laptop, tablet, or phone and how to cast your screen or run a projector if that is what you will be using.

Ask questions about the presentation area so you know what to expect. Will there be a podium? Will you have a microphone? Will you wait backstage before your speech or with the audience?

Knowing what to expect and being organized will give you less to worry about and more to be confident about.

3. Practice Practice Practice

Nothing takes the place of practicing and preparing for your speech. Write out a script of your key points, but don’t read from the script word for word. 

One of my best fear of tips to combat a fear of public speaking is to prepare for your speech so well that you could answer any possible question thrown at you.

When someone asks me how he can build effective communication skills and improve his public speaking, I quote the words of Elbert Hubbard, who said, “The only way to learn to speak is to speak and speak, and speak and speak, and speak and speak and speak.”

4. Perform Your Speech in Front of a Mirror

Practice your speech in front of the mirror as if you were speaking directly to someone. If you really want to learn how to overcome stage fright, then pay attention to:

  • Your facial expressions
  • Your gestures
  • Your body movements
  • How welcoming you appear

When you have gentle expressions and a calm demeanor when you speak, you will be more welcoming to your audience.

5. Record Yourself and Learn

Think about how top athletes go back and watch tape of their gameplay to see how to improve. To overcome your fear of public speaking, you would be essentially doing the same thing by recording your speech.

Set up your phone or a video camera to record your speech. Record yourself giving the talk from beginning to end. If you stumble over your words, forget something, or mess up, just keep recording.

Then listen to it or watch it, and make notes on how you could make it better. Some people do not like listening to the sound of their voice on tape, so it is important that you get used to your own voice and speaking style.

6. Work on Your Breath

Sometimes when speaking, we also tend to ramble. Working on your breathing will help you learn how to pace yourself in your speech so you don’t ramble or speed through at a pace your audience can’t keep up with.

When you focus on your breathing your voice will have more resonance and you will relax. 

Breathe calmly and focus on getting into a rhythm. Although this is an exercise to overcome public speaking anxiety, breathwork will help reduce stress and improve clarity in all areas of life.

7. Have Someone Review Your Presentation 

Sometimes we get in our own heads about our presentations, and it can be helpful to have someone we are close with who can still remain objective review the speech to provide feedback before presenting in front of the audience.

If you can, have someone else you trust listen to your speech for personalized public speaking help. Choose someone that would be considered close to the audience you’re planning to present to in order to get the best feedback.

This tip follows the principle of exposure therapy, which has you confront your fear of speaking in front of someone by speaking in front of someone. 

Starting small with an audience of one who can give you positive feedback will help you visualize just speaking to that one person when it is time to give your speech — from your introductory statement to the end of your speech if needed.

8. Take a Public Speaking Class

One of the best ways to improve public speaking and your comfort with it — and leave the fear of public speaking in your past — is to take public speaking courses.

There are many options out there — whether you take them at the university level or online in your spare time.

Invest in yourself as a public speaker as you would by going to school to earn a degree or certification for a better-paying job. While many speakers start out by giving speeches for free, the typical compensation for a public speaking event is $4,500 to $7,500.

The right training tools can help you become a six-figure speaker too.  

9. Exercise Before You Speak

One of my tips for public speaking anxiety that you may not think of is to exercise before you speak. 

Exercise is a key factor to success. It sparks creativity, gets the blood flowing, and helps get pent-up energy out.

Exercising before you speak could help tame the nerves and make you feel more relaxed before your speech. 

10. Include a Visual Aid to Help You Remember Talking Points

Visual aids like PowerPoint presentations could be a fantastic addition to your speech.

They can also help provide visual cues for you as the speaker about what you wanted to speak on next so you can feel more prepared and your public speaking anxiety will not creep in. 

Just make sure you’re not reading directly from the slides or the visual aid isn’t too overcrowded or small for your audience.

Keep it simple when it comes to visual aids. Rely on your speaking more than props.

11. Take a Pause

The powerful speech pause might be the most important speaking technique you will ever learn. Not only will it help you overcome your fear of public speaking, but it will help you master your control over the emotional impact of your speeches.

This secret is something that I’ve used for many years as a salesman and as a public speaker.

In music, all of the beauty is contained in the silences between the notes. In speaking, the drama and power of the speech are contained in the silences that you create as you move from point to point.

This is an art that you can learn with practice. As you practice your speech, pause for three to five seconds after asking a question, making one of your main points, or finishing a story.

The pause will give the audience time to ponder your message and connect with you. It will also help you slow down so that you are not speaking too quickly or rambling off-topic.

12. Drink Water and Have It Available

Consider keeping a glass of water next to you while you speak in case you need it.

Sometimes squeezing some lemon into your water helps as well. It helps lubricate your throat. 

Try to avoid sugary beverages before speaking. These can dry out your mouth and make it harder to talk.

Also, remember to drink water throughout your day to stay hydrated and keep your mind sharp and body ready to present … especially if you exercised before!

13. Read More

The stories we consume help shape the stories we share.

To become a better speaker with a proficient vocabulary and a cohesive message, reading more can help you develop your speaking skills.

Take time each day to read inspirational motivational quotes and other material from speaking professionals to help you overcome your fear of public speaking.

Consider reading Eloquence in Public Speaking by Dr. Kenneth McFarland. McFarland, who passed away in 1985, is also known as the “Dean of American Public Speakers.” In his book, he didn’t talk about methodology or technique at all.

His central message, which influenced me very strongly when I began speaking publicly, was that the key to eloquence is the emotional component that the speaker brings to the subject.

To put it another way, the starting point of being an excellent speaker is for you to really care about your subject.

Get to know your audience so you can speak their language, know their pain points, and help solve their problems. Use the motivational and leadership quotes you learn to inject some passion into your speeches and touch people’s emotions.

Remember that your speech is about them, it’s not about you. You are giving a speech to offer valuable information to others and improve their lives.

14. Focus on the Story You’re Telling, Not Your Audience’s Thoughts

When you’ve already done your research on your audience prior to your speech, you know what they want or need to hear from your speech.

Because of this, you should rest well knowing your message will resonate. 

There is always going to be someone in the audience on their phone or yawning. Remember that there will always be people who are bored or tired. None of these audience reactions have anything to do with you personally.

So then just focus on conveying that message or telling that story instead of what you think the audience is thinking while giving your speech.

Some of the most important public speaking help I can give you is to be yourself. Let your personality come through as you are talking to your audience and they will connect with you on a human level — and want to hear more from you. 

So get out of your head, focus on your story and wait for the applause at the end.

15. Relax, Meditate, and Use Positive Affirmations

In addition to breathwork, make sure you find ways to relax throughout your day and during your speech. 

Consider meditating or repeating positive affirmations to yourself to help you focus and build confidence in yourself and your ability to speak confidently in public.

Learn to channel your nervous energy into positive energy. Being nervous is a form of adrenaline. You can use it in a positive way to help give an impassioned presentation during public speaking events.

Practice breathing exercises for anxiety. Shallow breathing makes anxiety worse, deep breathing relaxes your body and brain. Shallow breathing comes from your chest; deep breathing comes from your abdomen.

Find a quiet place to sit or lie down and practice belly breathing. With one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest, breathe in through your nose and let your belly expand. Breathe out slowly through pursed lips, noting that your chest should be fairly still.

Another popular breathing exercise to calm nerves is the 4-7-8 exercise. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, then exhale by forcibly pushing your breath out for a count of eight.

Practicing these breathing exercises, meditation, and positive affirmations will reduce your public speaking anxiety as well as your anxiety in everyday life. 


Always Seek to Improve

No one ever stops growing. Even if you gave the best speech possible, there are always ways to improve.

Stop focusing on perfection and focus on delivering the best you can at this point in time, then go back, review, and learn to improve for your next amazing speech.

If there is a video of your speech, watch it and make notes on how you can improve on it for next time.

  • How do you think you did?
  • Are there areas you think you could have improved?
  • Did you seem stiff or make any weird facial expressions?
  • Did you use a PowerPoint presentation to your advantage? Did it help?
  • Did you use “um” often?
  • How was your rhythm?

Write everything down and keep practicing to improve. In time, you will banish all of your fears of public speaking.

Turn Your Fear of Public Speaking Into Confidence

Now that you have actionable ways to manage and eliminate your fear of public speaking with these tips for public speaking anxiety, it’s time to get speaking!

Use my 5-minute speech formula to organize your speech using the exact same formula I have used to speak to millions of people in over 70 countries.

And remember, only you are responsible for your success.


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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

How to overcome the fear of public speaking? PNRPU scientist told the most effective techniques

Back in the second half of the 20th century, social psychologists discovered a pattern that the mere presence of other people causes internal tension in a person. And the greater the number of those present, the stronger it is.

In particular, Nicholas Cottrell found that these feelings are associated with the expectation of evaluation from the group. When speaking to an audience, whether it is a presentation of a project in front of classmates, a dissertation or report defense, a toast at a family celebration or a performance on stage, we understand that we will be evaluated, and this gives rise to various fears. nine0005

Many researchers who deal with this problem assume that every person has such a deep, existential fear of being rejected by the group and being left alone.

According to Olga Yuryeva, Associate Professor of the Department of Sociology and Political Science of PNRPU , the fear of public speaking has a different range of intensity: from mild excitement to panic.

It manifests itself in different ways: inner experience, trembling in the voice, shaking hands, reddened face. All this pretty much spoils the performance, and the material is perceived by the public in a completely different way. The main task of the speaker is not to bring himself to uncontrollable panic. But with the excitement in the forces to cope with each person. nine0005

- Recall the saying "Wedge is knocked out with a wedge." We fight with the help of constant immersion in a situation that causes fear, that is, we perform in front of a group as often as possible, - shared her opinion Olga Yuryeva .

According to the Associate Professor of the Department of Sociology and Political Science, there are several areas of work in overcoming the fear of public speaking.

— Firstly, this is work to improve one's professionalism. Here you can recommend various courses in rhetoric, culture of speech, oratory. I would especially like to note acting courses, where not only voice and speech are staged, but also various emotional states are worked out. Secondly, it is necessary to analyze the personal reasons for the fear of public speaking. For example, it can be low self-esteem, self-doubt, the presence of a negative experience of interacting with a group, and the like. In this case, you can either work with the problem on your own or participate in psychological trainings on the relevant topics. Thirdly, this is a thorough preparation for the upcoming performance. The less public speaking experience, the more preparation time. At the first stages, you may have to memorize the material by telling it to your family or to yourself in front of a mirror. It is useful to record your speech and analyze the features of speech or behavior on a voice recorder or video. Also very important is the inner mood, the attitude towards the upcoming performance. For example, to perceive this situation as a valuable experience of interaction with the group,” the expert says. nine0005

In order to cope with the excitement during the performance itself, Olga Yurieva advises using special techniques to reduce internal tension:

1. Be sure to watch your breathing. Since the pulse quickens with strong excitement, we feel a strong heartbeat, breathing quickens. It becomes frequent and superficial. This, in turn, makes it difficult to speak. The person begins to choke. Thus, with the help of even and deep breathing, we not only regulate the frequency of contraction of the heart muscle, but also reduce internal tension. nine0005

2. Reception "focus on a benevolent audience". If a person does not yet have enough experience in public speaking, it can be difficult to maintain direct eye contact with the entire audience. It is recommended to choose one or two positive listeners who smile back at us and nod their heads in agreement, and focus attention on them. Thus, the speaker will feel positive emotional support during the speech.

3. Raising your voice during a speech will also help to reduce excitement or throw out internal tension. On the one hand, this is the release of accumulated excessive energy as a result of excitement, on the other hand, an increase in self-confidence. nine0005

4. Helps to give confidence and open active gestures. We not only broadcast to others that we are confident in ourselves, but we ourselves begin to feel it.

5. To win over the audience, it is important to smile. With a smile, we tell people that we are positive and ready to interact.

Note that even an experienced speaker can feel nervous before speaking. It must be understood that tension or excitement is an energy resource that can have either a positive or a negative effect, depending on the attitudes of a person, his professionalism. nine0005

There is an opinion that a little excitement is even necessary for a successful emotional performance.

Overcoming the fear of public speaking is a very individual process. Much will depend on the personal characteristics of a person, his willingness to work on himself, his motivation.

— If a person is clearly aware of the need to get rid of the fear of public speaking, he can cope with his problem on his own or turn to a specialist: a psychologist, a psychotherapist. In my opinion, it is advisable to take courses in oratory, acting, psychological training on the formation of confident behavior and the development of communication skills, says Olga Vladimirovna .

Text: Olesya Shardakova

how to overcome the fear of public speaking

Surprisingly, 95% of people on Earth are afraid to speak in front of an audience. Such statistics seem strange, because even from school we go out with answers to the blackboard, defend our projects in front of the class, participate in conferences, defend term papers at the university, tell our employer about ourselves, and this happens throughout our lives. However, the fear does not subside. At a webinar organized by the Center for Personal Development at ITMO University, Tatyana Afanasyeva, teacher of marketing and personal effectiveness, business coach, spoke about the nature of fear, and also shared life hacks: how to enjoy performances and not petrify with horror. We wrote down the top tips. nine0004

Fear of public speaking is the second most common phobia after the fear of death. It is experienced by more than 90% of all mankind.

The secret of this fear's popularity is that it is a manifestation of deeper, subconscious phobias. For example, a person may be afraid to make a mistake, lose credibility, be ridiculed or not accepted by the community. Internal biases form a negative attitude towards a situation where the worst scenario from your dreams can become a reality. Performing in front of a large and unfamiliar audience, which will undoubtedly evaluate you, just fits this description. nine0005

The factors that trigger the fear of public speaking can be described by three triggers.

Unknown. A person is always frightened by the prospect of encountering an incomprehensible and unusual environment for him, strangers. Novelty robs us of a sense of control over the situation, and therefore self-confidence.

Risk. The feeling of anxiety grows if you are preparing for a responsible performance, when much is at stake. For example, if you are presenting a project that you have been working on for a long time, defending a thesis, or presenting a business idea to investors, then you are more likely to be nervous, even if you used to calmly speak in front of small groups. nine0005

Conditions. You should not attribute fear to circumstances, but they also play an important role in its formation. Even if you know the topic well and have rehearsed your speech several times, you may start to get nervous. For example, if at the time of the performance, noisy repair work began outside the window, it became unbearably hot in the audience, or right before your report, the organizers offered to change the location - that is, the performance conditions have changed.

Fear grows gradually. If we consider it on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is a slight excitement, 5 is a real fear, and 10 is a panic attack, then a person should be able to cope with all levels of tension up to the fifth mark on their own. Therefore, your main task is to prevent the transformation of fear into panic, which completely paralyzes you. nine0005

Source: shutterstock.com

Determine the nature of your fear

To get your emotions under control, you need to find out what provokes them. Try to answer yourself the question: “What am I most afraid of at this performance?” Whether you are afraid of being appreciated by the public or losing their attention, perhaps you are afraid of not answering difficult questions or showing your incompetence by making a mistake. Once you understand what scares you in the first place, you can develop a plan to get around the stressful situation. nine0005

Change the focus of attention

Quite often people resort to physical tricks to fight fear - breathe, jump, walk, drink water. In fact, the nature of fear is embedded in your mind, which means that you can only overcome it with psychological methods. One of the most effective is the change of focus.

When you think about the upcoming speech, you constantly replay the most terrible episodes in your head: “I will forget the words”, “I won’t open the presentation”, “I will mix everything up and start to stumble”. But try to think about why others love public speaking? What feeds them? Attention, energy, new acquaintances? Discuss what motivates you. Try to take your mind off your fears and focus on how great it is to speak, that this is a rare chance to say something to people, and if you were given it, then you deserve it, your knowledge is valued, and your opinion is respected. nine0005

Understand why you are speaking

Answer the question honestly: why am I speaking? Is this a duty that I just have to fulfill, or am I presenting my work, and this is a very important and personal step for me?

If you have to speak out of necessity, then the excitement is meaningless. Why are you winding yourself up, worrying, if for you this is just another task, a formality.

If the performance is your personal decision, and serious goals are at stake, then turn to tip #2, try to concentrate on positive emotions and the results that await you. nine0005

Spend more time preparing

Dive deep into a topic: read additional literature, watch videos, talk to professionals to build a solid knowledge base around your topic.

Practice shows that when a person is interested, enthusiastic and familiar with a topic, then he naturally desires to talk about it to everyone - from colleagues to family members. Try to tune in to the subject of the speech, find amazing facts, come up with an unexpected approach to the topic, so that you yourself would be interested in talking about it. nine0005

Record a video of your performance

If you doubt yourself, then look at your performance from the outside. Write down your speech from beginning to end, and then analyze how you spoke, what gestures you used, what you were distracted by. The main thing is not to be too critical of yourself - performing is always difficult, this experience comes with years of training. But the first step to this is to learn to control your emotions and fear.

Practice at the venue where the performance will take place

It is not always possible, but if you have a chance, for example, to go up to the stage during a coffee break or to arrive early and at least get used to the atmosphere of the hall, then you will have already done yourself a great favor. This is how you deal with one of the main triggers of fear - the unknown.

Don't be a perfectionist

Striving for high quality work is a definite plus and a sign of mastery, but it's foolish to torment yourself with striving for perfection. Public speaking is a living process. Your speech is influenced by preparation, technique, organization of the event and of course, the audience. It is impossible to foresee and plan everything, but this is the beauty of the report - it is always something new and surprising.

Learn more